One thing that has always slipped under my radar when it comes to marshalling, is Rallying. You may hear of some Rallies that are going on in your area, but you might not think it’s for you. Well neither did I, but I thought I’d go along to give it a fair go.
The first thing that stood out for me was the early get up; I had never seen a 3:45am before, except for when I’ve come in from a night out or I’m going on an early flight to catch some sun on holiday, but I was up early in the name of marshalling.
A good number of marshals met up at a service station where I got a glimpse of the camaraderie and togetherness between those dressed in orange. A well executed convoy led 13 vehicles to the stage, with only a small hiccup of getting a little lost towards the end.
Once we were signed-on at the rally stage, we proceeded to our post where we could then set-up for the day. Normally a day of marshalling involves just taking a bag, but when you have too 4x4s and a blow-up gazebo you can really make any part of the rally stage a little home from home. Something that adds a bit of a safety net to your day because you know you can base your day of marshalling from there and really not have to worry about where your marshalling bag/box is in case you need your waterproofs.
The early get-up does allow you to have a good look around your sector, where the spectator viewing areas are and where the potential hazardous areas are for the cars. This is a must whether you are a new or experienced rally marshal because anything could happen when you are out.
A rally does provide a challenge that we only have nightmares about as a circuit marshal and that’s the weather. Normally if the weather rolls in to a certain extent the racing would be stopped on safety grounds, so for the amount of snow we had any normal meeting would be stopped, but for a rally it’s just another day at the office.
Well, that’s what we all thought anyway. As the snow came down heavier and heavier, the earlier cars through were getting some grip on the powdered snow, but as it compacted and turned to ice and less fresh snow was able to stick in time, the later cars were troubled by ice.
The ice wouldn’t have been too much of a problem if the rally cars had studded tyres, but the lack of them caused problems for the drivers and caused some to crash. Over safety concerns the stage was cancelled which was a real disappointment because I was just getting into the day of marshalling. However, driving back to the end of the stage to pick up the main road home, we soon realised that it was the right decision when even a 4×4 was struggling to find grip. Although this did let us have a good look at what the stage would have been like for the drivers.
Whilst the day was cut very short it did leave me thinking about other first time rally marshals like myself. If you are thinking of doing a rally then my suggestion would be to just get stuck in. It’s not like circuit racing where there are factors that are similar week in week out, so for the best experience you’ve got to give it a go. I know I will be going back to one, just so then I can experience what a full day of rally marshalling really is.
Written By – Robert Lee (@RobLee559 – Twitter/Instagram)