I'm affraid I fell out of love with the WRC some years ago. Its pants now. I didn't miss a RAC rally (Wales Rally GB, to you kids
) from 1978 (aged 6) to 2001, then stopped.
The powers that be have slowly screwed it up since Gp B was banned in 86.
Take Loebs tally of wins as an indicator of the sport. What is it- 30 victories?? Don't get me wrong- hes a nice guy and very very talented, but would he have won so many rallies when there were 8-9 works teams and 30 FIA seeded drivers per round?? The FIA have constantly pandered to an ever decreasing number of works factory teams, and as a consequence have destroyed the sport. It needs a radical rethink, root to branch. The FIA had a chance to do this last month when deciding the technical regs for 2012 onwards, but passed another load of confusing and unappealing regulations. They took away my beloved Safari Rally, gave us SupaRally (WTF) to bolster the dwindling number of factory drivers (in which Joe Public doesn't understand why someone who crashes out can restart the next day in front of someone who did not???
It breaks my heart to see what has become of rallying. As a competetor, sometime ex-WRC mechanic and true motorsport fan I feel let down, and long for the days when it was a real test of man and machine against the envioroment and the stopwatch.
Driver wise- there were a few truely great drivers
Ari Vatanen, very quick in that 205 T16. Totally comitted, win or bust and the nicest bloke you would ever meet. He once wandered off into an old widdow's kitchen during a late night service in the borders on the RAC in 84, his team, Peugoet were using an old cow shed at the side of her farm house. Old Terry Harryman- his co-driver was having a fit because Ari was having a cuppa and trying to fix this old dears washing machine despite the fact they were due to leave!
The other great Finn was Markku Alen- Maximum Markku. Could drive bloody anything flat out. Won something like 20 WRC rounds when that meant something.
Then there was our man McRae. Threw more wins away than anyone, could never pace himself. Shit or Bust. Fantastic to watch. I remember doing a Scottish Championship round in the late 80s or early 90s. Colin turned up in his Uncle Shoey's Escort Mk2, not the best Escort out there but half decent club car. He won with the bloody thing against loads of good drivers in 4WD machinery, 6R4s, Subaru Legacys, the lot. Huge bloody talent. Shows what a shit state the WRC is in when the most famous Rally driver of all time was out of work.
I serviced for Prodrive on some European rounds the year he won the championship, I'll never forget when his car rolled into final service just outside Chester. He got out of the car, smiled sheepishly and mumbled 'Easy' as he glanced across to Carlos Sainz who he had just beaten to the crown. He really couldn't understand all the fuss, and spent the next twenty minutes passing round drinks and sandwiches. Classic Colin. He's sorely missed round these parts.
I get my kicks in sportscar racing now. Le Mans runs its own show. Its special, magical, unique, passionate, competetive, an awesome spectacle......... The WRC was once like that. A long time ago.