Once upon a time there was a Rally.
Some said it was the best Rally... "in the world!" (/Clarkson accent)
This Rally was made of iconic technical and spectacular stages full of jumps, hairpins, and audience.
Stages like "Fafe" have been included in the "Best Rally Stages" (video).
But then there were problems. Audience misbehaving (there, as well as in other Countries...) and massively powered beasts called "Group B".
In 1986 a Portuguese driver lost control and crashed into the audience. I've always said: "YES, audience misbehaved massively", but also, "not in this case". They were not ON the road, they weren't even on the corner exit (video at 1.53).
So "Group B" cars were killed off, we lost our Rally in the World Championship, and Rallying took a turn for a surgical, lonely racing activity in stages were "safety" could be guaranteed.
To compensate the lack of audience, there were created "Super Special Stages" in stadiums and rally cross tracks.
For a couple of years now, we got our WRC event back (kind of). Running around in the Algarve narrow (and mostly boring) dirt roads. Drivers think it's a "meh" Rally, dust is a problem, and it's placing in the South, distant from the tradicional Rallying sites in the Center and North of the Country and the lack of accessibility or local knowledge means: EMPTY STAGES. Which unfortunately is what organizers want, to make sure we "keep it safe" and that the event remains in Portugal.
And then there are "Public oriented stages" in the stadium. Safe, with parking, restaurants, etc.
Well screw that! This is not soccer! It's Rally! I want to go to the hills in the morning, bring my own food and drink, watch them go by and return in the evening full of dirt, photos and a huge smile on my face.
(click image to see gallery)
...bring my kids and have some quality time surrounded by friends (old ones or just made on the spot), not in a stadium full of strangers, fearing their abduction.
(Although Maddie McCann was not abducted in my opinion, but that's another rant all together).
This year, we had a Rally Sprint a week before the Rally itself. It was run in the most famous of all stages "Fafe", with the best audience possible.
People behaved and we proved that Rallying has to be done with and for the audience, and for the drivers.
These writings on the tarmac paying homage to Colin, Burns and Toivonen show how much these people love and know the sport. Spanish "afficcion" was there too, massively.
Miss Mouton and Messieur Todt, give Rallying back to the people who made it what it (still?) is. The audience. Let the drivers enjoy and fear the hard stages. The conquest of the challenges. Screw the boring races where the best machine always prevails.
Rallying is NOT this:
(even though rolling a Group B Audi Sport Quattro looks funny, it feels safe, controlled and boring)
Let people on the road make the difference once more. Because rallying, is this:
What's the point of having Red Bull sponsored cars if they can't fly anyway?