Pirelli Carlisle Rally 2016 – Behind The Scenes.

By Barry Lindsay
Deputy Chief Marshal

When I was asked to join the Pirelli organizing committee 3 year ago, at first I tried to get out of it but eventually Eric Ritchie talked me round to go to one meeting. Barry Armstrong was working all the hours he could and was needing help with the marshal side so agreed to help.

2016 was my third year and back into the British Rally championship as well as the British Historic Championship, Aneccc and Northern Historic. We went back to 2 days of competition and twice the mileage to marshal on the Saturday than we did in 2015. Meetings started back last June when there was talk of a strong possibility of being in the BRC. At this point chicanes were mentioned and one of the criticisms on the 2015 event had been the pallets used to build them so 2016 had to be big bales.

At this point I probably should have engaged brain before mouth but I stuck both feet in, I seem to become in charge of Bales from that point. 40 Big Bales were bought and wrapped at Laversdale in the harvest season and stored ready for April.The build up to the event I had been competing on the Riponian & Malcolm Wilson after that the car was parked in the garage for 6 weeks. I never believed my time would disappear at nights so quickly. Hours of time were spent emailing and talking to stage commanders trying to chase up people who may marshal, and then there was meetings and trying to plan the inevitable. Marshal numbers were safe side of where we predicted which was a relief as these were being checked on the day but the Delegate so a little note. If you say you will marshal make sure you let the stage commander know if you’re not going to make it. He does need to cover where you were expected to be marshalling.

The week leading up to the rally: Sunday 8am, Kenton and I departed Laversdale on tractors and trailers 20 large bales each via Gilsland, Spadeadam & Butterburn. Roads not built for hauling such large trailers. Armed with my plan Bales were dropped off at all the chicane locations but was 6pm when we got back, others had been in the forest also delivering posts and arrowing for the recce.

Tuesday 8am six of us departed Rosehill to visit SG Petch in Durham to pick up and drive back the Safety 4×4’s for the event. This year I was going to be driving Allan Blake in the 00 car as Eric who in all the years I have grown up with this event has driven. That’s almost 40 years of experience so these were pretty big shoes I was following and had to fill. So driving back the Isuzu I realized its all well and good driving quick in a 206 but this crew cab pickup is nearly twice the length.

Tuesday night all the committee met for the last meeting all the printing was done but we had to put together packs for officials, media packs etc etc

Thursday: Barry Armstrong, Brian Davidson & I needed to set up Shepherdshield as the Stage commander wasn’t going to have time as he was doing another stage. It took most of the day with 3 spectator area’s but it was enjoyable good banter even if comms between the two vehicles weren’t very good turned out one of the radio’s was on different channel !

With all equipment used or dropped off with the stage commanders we headed back to Carlisle to swap vans ready for next day.

Friday: Another van load of equipment but before that the recce was on so Stage 1 start needed someone to collect recce tickets. On arrival at 8.30 it was white with snow…. It’s the end of April and it’s a blizzard. There were two Barry’s, one of us had to do it! So I said We needn’t both get wet. His reply that’s good of you and got back in the van! After they had passed all friendly and not wanting to be standing where I was. The rest of the day was delivering and speaking to SC’s supplying extra material and generally problem solving. Back to Carlisle for a Safety Car Briefing with all the safety car crews and what the Delegate wanted to see.

For some reason my sister decided to organize her 40th Birthday party on this night so did manage to show face all be it just for an hour but armed with my little nephew who needed to be in bed by 11 as he was playing at Liverpool for Carlisle united under 8’s good excuse for me to get to bed too.

Saturday Morning, cracking morning sun was just up as I met as Allan Blakes to head up to Kielder ahead of schedule.

First two stages were almost nonstop and no issues all good then a bit of a rest time to visit the SMC boys and girls before heading to stages 3 & 4. Again the stage commanders had done a great job and very few issues. A quick chance for a coffee and watch the Giles Philips service crew go work on the Evo 9 that Brian Kinghorn was using as 0 car then it was back to SS1 for the repeat ahead of the BRC crews. Again no issues and this time SMC were providing coffee!

Back to Carlisle quick walk round service, something to eat then fuel up the car then drop Allan off at home. Just after giving the car a wash I looked on twitter and noticed that the issue with boggy times and chicanes were getting a lot of people talking. This was then followed by a call from Brian to discuss chicanes. Wanting to know is there any way of building more.

The conclusion was if I could build them they could sort the paperwork…. Yes I can move the unused Saturday bales but there was the issue of the used chicanes other equipment was back inside H&H and its 10.30 on a sat night. Phone calls flew back and forth but at one point it was like a treasure hunt program. Me on the phone to David Love who was directing me in a dark building with only emergency lights. Opening doors etc to find all the gear including chicane boards, netlon, chevrons. At this point I then dropped the Isuzu off with Allan as I wasn’t sure when I would get back and was opting out of driving 00 on the Sunday.

So just after 11pm myself and Dad departed for Kielder in Pickup with car trailer to move 15 large bales. Some of them 10 mile from one side of the forest to the other and build 3 chicanes at set points. By the time we had finished it was light and had been something to remember. Day break at Kielder with the water like a mirror. However with last chicane built we stopped… With signal I messaged Brian. “Chicanes in place… staying here to watch!”  This we did and actually got to see the pace of the R5’s which are amazing using massive amounts of ditches to gain time and chicanes were only a blip before back to 5th&6th gear.

Back to Carlisle after the event but arranged to meet at Brian Davidsons where the two equipment vans were to be unloaded. Long wheel base high roof vans crammed with signage, tape, posts and all wet. However many hands made light work of it all and the event was all but a distant memory.

Monday: Kenton & I were back on the bale mission to now find them and remember which were moved already, and then stack them and repair the damaged ones with more wrap. Another long day. Thanks for the help Kenton much appreciated.

Is it all worth it, that is to answer another day. But all events go through very similar effort. So the next time you’re competing and have a grumble at an organizer just stop and think…what they have already done before the day of the rally… I know this last 3 years have opened my eyes and I thought I already had a good idea with running stages and marshalling and I’m just a small part of a big team.

OK lets dust the 206 off and back to competing and see what happens in 2017….

In the meantime a very BIG THANKYOU to everyone for marshalling on the 2016 Pirelli Carlisle Rally, some of you doing two days your help is much appreciated from us all on the organizing committee. Likewise without the competitors with many SMC members taking part on their local event, it’s for you we do it. Hope you enjoyed it and hope to see you all next year…… Thanks