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The Tour Of Mull Rally by Julian Grattidge

Jan 01,2006 by Elton

The Tour of Mull Rally is recognised by true rally aficionados as being one of the best closed road events in existence today. Indeed the event is commonly referred to by those lucky enough to witness the spectacle each year as being ‘the best rally in the world’. My first trip to the Isle of Mull was back in 1992, and since then I have been involved with the rally year after year; first as a spectator and then as chase crew for my brother who now competes every year. Even now, after all these years, my affection for this special rally held on this very special island, has not dimmed in the slightest...


Picture the Scene...

Its gone , you're standing in complete darkness - and I mean complete darkness - not the faintest glow from a far off city can be seen. From behind you comes the sound of the sea lapping at the base of the rocks you're perched upon. From miles away you begin to hear the faint grunts of BDA's and 6R4's along with the bangs and crack's of anti-lag echoing all around the coastal inlets. Cars are pounding down a ten-mile stage at mere minute intervals, each team trying to catch and pass the car in front. You begin to see light - at first it’s just vague reflections off the solid, low lying, cloud coming in off the sea. Cars get closer, the sounds become more distinct; anti-lag fills the air, the hairs on your arms start to rise. Then, as if out of nowhere comes the rip-snorting cacophony of sounds and smells of a WRC Subaru Impreza on full-heat. Night becomes day as the clusters of light pod's blaze into view - The air is filled with the sound of rubber being pushed to its uppermost limits of adhesion - the car’s rear end drifts perfectly round a tight but long left-hander and then immediately with a seemingly effortless dab of the brakes and a blip of the throttle, the car reverses its stance completely in order to drift the other way into a fast sweeping right-hander leading into a 300 yard sprint to the stage finish.

A WRC Subaru tackles ‘Mishnish Lochs’ in daylight on The Tour of Mull


As if wanting to show its disgust at being restrained once over the line, the WRC rally car lets out a long wail of ear-splitting anti-lag twinned with outbursts of flame as the un-burnt fuel ignites before being jettisoned from the exhaust. The car decelerates before eventually slowing to a stop at the time control; hot air escaping from every vent · the intense heat wafting from all around. Ten miles of non-stop acceleration and braking down the some of the most demanding roads in the world have taken their toll on crew and car; both driver and navigator look fatigued from the all-consuming mental and physical endurance required to ensure crew and car make it to the end of the stage unscathed · the roads on Mull take no prisoners. The intense heat generated from such a test shows inside and outside the car; inside the crew sweat profusely behind fire-proof race suits, helmets and safety harnesses, whilst outside the bake discs glow fiery orange behind each wheel · so hot one can almost see through the metal as it illuminates the tarmac beneath the inner-wing. The whole car seems alive as the engine rumbles on a deep, lumpy, tick-over. Various components make strange noises as they cool in the fresh night air and the nose is subjected to a heady cocktail of hot oil, coolants, rubber and fuel. Looking on, the scene is akin to a pumped-up Grand National racehorse being led to the winner’s enclosure after the race of its life; jittery and on-edge, sweat pouring from its body, nostrils flaring as it strives to get much needed oxygen to its depleted mussels. In this case however, the animal is a finely tuned piece of engineering excellence capable of unleashing many more horses than you’ll ever see at Aintree · and all in one go!


Inside the car the navigator gets his time from the control team stationed at the roadside before the driver clunks the gearbox into action and the car moves off once more with differentials, gears and engine all whining away as one. As the car slips from view you are suddenly aware of the next rally car beating down on the tarmac to your vantage point, and the whole joyous experience starts all over again.


There's something almost artistic about watching a driver ‘tame the beast' over the narrow and twisty tarmac roads of Mull, though forgive me if I'm preaching to the converted, for those who have seen McRae and Ringer emerge sideways from a mist covered dawn morning in the Welsh forest's or the Scottish borders, well... they will know where I'm coming from! No mater what era of rally sport you hanker after, The Tour of Mull has the lot - MK II Escorts to Group B animals; You’ve never seen such an impressive array of finely turned out motor-cars, not that they all look so good at the end, mind!

The Tour of Mull has the lot, like this immaculate RS2000 entered by Dave Hopwood & Paul Grattidge


If it all sounds like fun, why not check out the other pages of this site to find out more about this fantastic rally and its cars through the eyes of fans, the Isle of Mull itself and the people behind the event. You can also find links to accommodation and resources for those intending to visit the island. This is a fan site, built by fans. For the official site, go to


If you compete in the rally and you would like your own page within this site, just drop us an email.


Julian Grattidge

3541 times read

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