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Part 4 ~ Here We Go Again!

Jan 08,2006 by Julian Grattidge

The first few days on the island are spent acclimatising. First job is to get the stages reccied · the rally runs on pace-notes whereby each crew list the myriad of corners, dips, crests and curves on each stage. These notes are then read out to the driver by the navigator during the event, the idea being that the driver knows exactly what to expect before arriving at the next corner so that the car can be positioned correctly to get crew and car safely through the stage as quickly as possible · well, that’s the theory!


As the stages are run on normal island roads (specially closed for the event) there could be little changes here and there each year that the drivers need to be aware of · new tarmac laid on a fast corner could effect the way the car reacts at high speed or a large pothole in the wrong place could be enough to rip a wheel off if you land badly after a jump. As such, it’s essential for the navigator to make subtle adjustments to the pace-notes each year to take said changes into account. As the event runs the same stages during the night and day, most crews like to test all the stages in daylight and darkness just to ensure they are happy with the notes and are ready for any major changes. The amount you check the notes during the build up depends on how good they are and how many times you’ve competed! It’s all about preparation and confidence · when you’re about to fly blind over a crest in top-gear at over one-hundred miles an hour, you want to be sure that you know what’s going to meet you on the other side - as there’s not much you can do when all four wheels are up in the air!


Obstacles come in all shapes and sizes - some are easier to plot on the reccie than others!


Each day during the build up more and more people arrive on the island for the rally and the pubs get busier each night. It’s a great atmosphere as you chat to other crews and visitors. It’s one of those rare occasions where everybody seems to be your friend no matter who they are or where they’re from. Just a mass of people converging in one place at one time with one common goal in mind · to go as fast as they can over some of the most demanding roads in the world. And if they’re not driving a car, they’ll be service crew, family, friends or spectators all linked to somebody who is competing. It’s like one big family, all intent on making this year’s event better then the last. No surprise then that much merriment is had by all in the many pubs and restaurants scattered around the island. Things are made much the merrier by the fantastic hospitality offered to all by the resident islanders; many of whom will also be competing in the rally. It’s as if the whole island is taken over for a week!


The whole island succumbs to 'rally-fever'


Each day the intensity builds to fever pitch, as rumours circulate about cars and drivers who may have something up their sleeves · it’s an atmosphere you can’t really describe... you just have to be there, but it’s better than you’ll ever experience at any other motoring event · and believe me, I’ve been to a few!


Then, come Friday morning, everything changes · for Friday is rally day.

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