Introduction to the basics of rallying

Rallying has such a great history in Scotland, the chances are you already know a lot about it. We are blessed with forest roads that have hosted rallies for many years – and Scotland has produced some truly great rally drivers.

For the uninitiated, rallying is one of the purest forms of motorsport there is. It’s man (or lady) and machine battling the elements and racing against the clock. To win, you have to make no mistakes and be the fastest – a tricky combination to get right, that’s for sure!

Stage rallying, which is what I do, takes place on closed roads. Sometimes on closed public Tarmac roads, sometimes on forest gravel tracks. Events are organised by very experienced volunteers, everything is run in a controlled environment and there are rapid-response medics on stand-by. Rules are strictly applied. There are no boy racers in rallying.

Each event contains a number of speed tests – or special stages, as they’re called – which are timed to the nearest tenth of a second. Here you drive as fast as your car, ability and conditions allow. Unlike circuit racing, you don’t get to see each corner 30 times. Instead you rely on your navigator to tell you where to go, and experience counts for a lot. You rally on all surfaces – Tarmac, gravel, snow and sand – and in all weather conditions.

The special stages are linked by road sections, where you must obey the law, including speed limits. Any road traffic offence could not only get you in trouble with the police, it can get you excluded from a rally. In many ways, the road sections can be the most hazardous – because on the closed special stages, you don’t have other vehicles coming towards you or pulling out of side roads.

There is a lot of navigation, a lot of repairing the car and a lot of driving as fast as you can – and a lot of variables, like the weather, which you have no control over. Rallying is certainly a challenging sport, and you will have definitely earned that win if you make it to the to the top step of the podium!