Rally fans are a hardy bunch. Whereas at Silverstone when the rain and miserable weather arrives most pack up and head home, apart from a select dedicated few who battle out the conditions for the love of the sport. In rallying bad weather is almost something to be expected – particularly in the UK. So the fans arrive prepared for it, if the rain comes then there’s very little chance of them heading to the car to go home. These are proper fans and something that any series should be proud to have. The mud, rain and whatever else the climate decides to throw in the mix is all part of what makes rallying so special.
I was at the Rainworth Skoda Dukeries Rally based around the Sherwood Pines area. Of course, as I mentioned bad weather was expected so I arrived in full waterproof gear ready for a complete mud bath of a rally. The first stage I headed to was SS1, Watchwood. Watchwood is a very short stage (only a mile or so at most) but was still action packed with crests and sweeping corners through the undulations of the woodland area.
A quick nip to the service park meant, of course, the heavens opened on the poor mechanics who were working tirelessly on the cars to send them park out into the stages. It’s not a job I envy. The cars are by this point covered in muck, gravel, stones, tree and they have to work within very tight deadlines to sort these machines out before sending them out to go and do the same thing all over again. Half of the teams didn’t even have awnings to shelter themselves from the rain – this is after all club level rallying.
Club level rallying doesn’t, however, mean a lack of professional teams. The Kick Energy sponsored Ford Focus WRC ran by Perez and Spooner is one example of a professional team in a series with some serious competition. Other notable entrants included SGP Motorsport in their new Ford Fiesta R5+ – surely a force to be reckoned with.
Once the cars were sent back out I followed them over to Sherwood Pines to be fronted with a complete mud bath of a stage. It’s safe to say every piece of camera gear I took has now been cleaned fairly thoroughly. Mud clumps were flying everywhere!
Hope you enjoy my photographs from the Dukeries Rally, I’ve got a busy few weeks coming up so expect to have some slightly delayed coverage on here. This week I’m off to Le Mans for the second time as part of my prize from the Concours Endurance Sarthe competition. Then it’s time for the second 24H race of the month at the infamous Nürburgring, followed by a trip to the glorious Paul Ricard for an evening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series.