Rally GB: Retro Style
Rear-drive Escorts would be a good way to spice up WRC, unexpected oncoming traffic not so much
Christian Geistdörfer, Terry Harryman, Derek Ringer, Robert Reid: just some of the great co-driving names in the wonderful sport of rallying. My name, most definitely and absolutely, will never be on that list. Sure, like any bloke I like to think I can tell one end of the map from the other, and take pride in plotting a route the old fashioned way, especially if it means out-witting the sat nav system.
And then there's the car I'm sitting in. Arguably the quintessential rally car of all time, the Ford Escort Mk2 RS1800 doesn't want to know much about anything below 7,000rpm. It is also entirely comfortable with being ragged to 9,500rpm, at which point it sounds - and feels through the chassis - like the most savage, over-sized, industrial chainsaw ever built. It's so angry you imagine it wants to rip a chunk of front bulkhead off and start chewing on it while using it's pistons as missiles around the service car park.
We're at Great Orme, Llandudno in North Wales, ready for stages one and two of Wales Rally GB - part of a warm-up act of classic rally cars to run through the stage before Loeb and co show up.
Sadly - although thankfully without any tragic consequences - the fun stops (very) abruptly when it becomes apparent that various FIA cars have been let into the stage at the other end, a liberal smearing of Kumho's finest testament to the ensuing 'moment' along with a hefty dry cleaning bill.
The current troubles of the WRC are a frequent topic of heated debate among most motorsport enthusiasts, and rightly so. The A55 to Llandudno was quiet and seemed entirely devoid of the mud-splattered Impreza, Evo and hot hatch convoys of yesteryear, once ferrying tired rally fans to the next stage complete with dodgy service station snacks and dog-eared map books. The cars, the events, the competition, the prices, the media, the TV coverage, the FIA - there are many issues to discuss and no room for it here, but while it's far too simplistic to blame any one area, even with rose-tinted spectacles firmly removed, it's obvious that a drifting, rear-drive rally car at 9,500rpm has plenty of teach the current generation cars when it comes to raw entertainment. Long live the RS1800.