There have been a few changes to this year's Rally of Scotland. So, on the day the ticket pricing policy has been announced
AUTOSPORT took five minutes with clerk of the course Iain Campbell.
Q. Rally of Scotland has received universal praise from the competitors who have competed in both previous events. Why are you looking to change things for 2011?
Iain Campbell: What we have looked to do for the third running is to introduce some new dimensions to the format that has served us successfully in 2009 and 2010. The changes are more evolution that revolution, if you like. I have wanted to have a night forest stage to open the rally and getting access to another area that has not been rallied for almost two decades keeps the event really fresh. Rally of Scotland has successfully opened up the Trossachs region to rallying once again and hopefully this is what we can achieve with Carron Valley this year. Carron Valley is also of the length that we can merge stage one and stage two giving great viewing to the spectators as well as a new challenge to the competitors.
The changes to the Perthshire stages [on Saturday] just reflect things that have been learnt from previous years and either add a new element to the stage or remove something that didn't offer anything to the competition.
The Loch Ard stages [on Sunday] have been reworked again to offer something different. It is also such a huge complex that there are a lot of residents within the wood whose interests we want to protect. By reworking bits of the route we can hopefully show that we can rally through here but also respect their access and property.
The castles and palaces have formed a lynchpin of the whole impact of Rally of Scotland since its inception. Having access to such wonderful buildings as Stirling Castle and Scone Palace really does make this event unique and hopefully by switching them around this year they will provide even more of an impact to the whole atmosphere.
But overall we have retained the bit that the event gains most praise from; the most fantastic forest roads to race over, that and some of the friendliness marshals you will ever come across on a rally.
Q. With 37.5 instead of just 25 points on offer for a win on Rally of Scotland, how much of a difference do you think that will make to the entry?
IC: Because the winner of Rally of Scotland can bag 12.5 points more for a victory here than in any other round we have had commitments from leading crews to come here far earlier than ever before. There are entries meant to be coming from Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Belgium, Australia, Czech Republic, Japan, Ireland, England and of course from Scotland. Currently I think we will have at least 12 top quality S2000 crews and at least 6 different names who could win it.
Q. Though the event has been praised for its stages, there were only nine finishers last year. Is it a car breaker?
IC: There were actually 10 finishers last year; one of those was a crew who didn't have a car registered for the IRC so didn't appear on the IRC results. The rally isn't a car breaker, but the stages are all really fast in nature and it is this that caught out the majority of the retirements last year. They either fell off the road, or their cars couldn't continue at the flat-out pace that was being asked of them.
All the crews who retired on day one last year all came back out on day two to restore their pride. Look at Guy Wilks who was fastest on all but one stage on the Sunday but was not eligible to appear in the final classification. This year we will adopt the WRC SupeRally rules to allow crews who don't finish on day one to come back out on Sunday and see if they can maybe salvage some points from a real attack.
Q. It is well documented that the event does not count towards either the British or Scottish Rally Championship. What are your feelings on this and what will you be doing to attract entries?
IC: It is disappointing on a number of fronts, especially this year the BRC still has a round to go after Rally of Scotland. Not being a counter and having moved the Manx Rally to the end of October probably means that the top UK competitors are not going to come to Scotland. They are then missing out on the opportunity to take on the best of Europe on home soil, a good result here could really cement their reputations in front of many manufacturer team managers. Then there is all the publicity that goes along with the series, 14 hours of television coverage, pull-out in the biggest selling daily in Scotland, The Sun, the Times, Herald and Scotsman all report direct from the event as well as the international coverage and radio broadcasting. This would all add up to a sponsors dream in terms of coverage. As an event we miss the addition to our entries but also the added home interest from having the cream of the top UK championship competing.
We have tried working with the Scottish Rally Championship since 2008, but nothing has ever come to fruition. However we do have a great offer for the national competitors with our national event offering over 80 miles for only £575 and an added incentive for inclusion in the Wales Rally GB national event. This should appeal to those who can't do the international as they get to do all of the Sunday stages and the second loop on Saturday.
Q. This is the last year of the three contract with Event Scotland, Stirling Castle and Perth & Kinross Council. What discussions are taking place for next year, or is there a future for the rally?
IC: The event partners have already told us that the rally has delivered an A+ for them in terms of return for media exposure for the country and the regions. We do have other areas that have not been so strong and they are very supportive in trying to help us to achieve more. There is an interest for the event to continue and Eurosport see it as one of the cornerstones of the IRC Series. Talks are in a very early stage but certainly, as a team we really want Rally of Scotland to continue and to grow and grow.
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