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Part 5 ~ Scrutineering

Jan 08,2006 by Julian Grattidge

Friday is rally-day. Everybody is up early and the mood is pensive. Hundreds of people urgently go about their business (everyone on the island it seems!). The cars have to go through scrutineering prior to the event; a sort of MOT test to ensure the car is sound and strong enough to withstand the punishing conditions it will be faced with over the days ahead. Testing starts on the Friday morning and there are always a few heart-stopping moments before your vehicle gets passed. Often there will be the odd adjustment or tweak to make before final approval is given so the whole day is a nervous affair for crew and mechanics alike as the cars are prepared for the gruelling stages ahead.


Rally marshals undertake scrutinerring


With scrutineering out of the way the early afternoon is taken up with the business of making sure everybody involved with the car is aware of where they have to be and when, in order that the first leg of the event runs smoothly. The first line of defence for many of the top-seeded rally cars is a chase-car. This is basically a car that meets the rally car either before or after a special stage to offer assistance to the rally car if needed. The chase car carries valuable spares in order to effect emergency roadside repairs or help with any immediate problems that the rally car encounters on-stage. As the chase car cannot use the same route as the rally car, there needs to be firm planning so that the chase car is in the right place at the right time. The rally car will face strict time penalties if it does not keep to a strict schedule so it’s imperative that the chase crew are fully briefed on the route the rally car will be taking, as they may be required to be in as many as ten different locations at specific times during the first night of the rally.


Service crew attend to last minute preparations before the start!


Likewise the service barge and support crew. After a set amount of stages the cars are allowed to make repairs and adjustments to their cars in service, but only have a limited time in which to do so. As such it’s vital the support crew know where the service areas are and at what time the car will be due into meet them. The chase car will keep the service crew updated on the cars progress through the stages and will be in regular contact with the support crew to pre-warn them of any likely work the rally car will require on reaching service. 


All these tasks need to be planned in advance and much of the afternoon is taken up making sure everything is in order. It’s basically the navigator’s job to ensure that everybody knows exactly what they are doing and when they are doing it, so the navigator has much more to do that just read out the pace-notes! As the afternoon unfolds the crews have to attend briefings by the organisers where they will be informed about any last minute changes to the event schedule prior to the start.


As you walk around Tobermory on the Friday afternoon it’s a bit like watching thousands of ants scurrying around a nest. Compared to the leisurely build up over the last few days, things are now much more focused, as people busily make their way here and there with a specific purpose in mind.



Service crew and mechanics get busy. Teamwork is essential to success on Mull.

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