That’s a big headline isn’t it, but I’m not sure there’s another way to describe it. So let’s look at the facts…
We’re 12 hours after the Gogledd has had to cancel due to only 35 or so entries (a clash with a WAMC round in South Wales possibly hasn’t helped there), we’re 48 hours away from the Bro Cader running with approximately 40 cars and 2 weeks after Rali Mon had 64 starters. There are myriad other examples, Firefly Novice 38 starters for instance…the real big recent success was the PK at 80 starters.
So what’s going on? Well it would be easy to say everyone has gone to targa rallies, 116 seeing 100 starters and numerous reserves being a good case in point. Daylight hours rallying, much easier on the nav and generally somewhat more laid back, but you still need a marshall and there is probably your answer. Friends and family are way more amenable to spending the daytime out rather than all night.
Costs, quite possibly having an impact. The requirement for e marked tyres has lead to an almost arms race across the entry list to get the best money can buy, gone are the days of using a reasonable road tyre or indeed a part worn gravel tyre bought for £20 a time and would last several events. It’s ironic really that the actual on event running costs for someone just out for fun are now very similar on a road or stage event (note I said on event running costs, not safety equipment costs!)
Now I’m road rallying through and through it’s where I started and there is something so special about lanes rallying in the dead of night, seeing a local event cancelled is heartbreaking as I know the huge effort Rhyl will have put in with a week to go, (and yes I know we withdrew our entry but that was because of unseen issues with the car ahead of Rally GB). Reading the comments on their page competitors were generously offering to pay more to ensure it ran, but unusually in this life it’s not always about the money.
A road event running a road rally permit (which costs around £17 per car), generally speaking needs 35 paid entries to break even, or cover the costs if you like. What road events really need is masses of marshalls, on average anything between 60 & 90. This is where a low entry really hurts an event, you can run the risk of running with endless code boards, but then you’ll face a none stop barrage of criticism that you had too many code boards, it’s a no win for the beleaguered organizer.
This is where I feel road rallying and clubs in general can take a leaf out of the historic scene/targa events. Ok a road rally doesn’t have tests, but there are sections. Lets say 9 on an average event.
There’s (depending on where you draw a geographical line) around 8-12 clubs in North Wales, a section on average might need 10 controls, you can see where I’m going can’t you?, if we as clubs and a region worked closer together we could supply as clubs a team of 10 per event.
Just take a moment to digest that thought, that’s a pool of 80-120 marshalls!! On a night event the no marshall/ no start is a deterrent to people entering there’s no two ways about that, but if we all worked together it could become a thing of the past.
There are huge benefits to the standard of marshalling too, in that there would generally be consistency throughout events with similar people doing each one. I do realise not everyone is going to be able to do every event incidentally.
Rallying to us within it seems a big deal and in many ways is (cost alone!), outside of our world it’s a small sport and one that we need to help from within. The days of parochial club attitudes need to be over and we need to work together to ensure the survival of probably the purest form of rallying left.
Let’s try and help it survive.