The chatter about the route for this year's Rally GB raised a thought: what good is a visionary without a clean sheet of paper? And if supplied with paper, could the vision be found?
It could, thanks to Rally GB route co-ordinator Andrew Kellitt.
It's worth noting that while thinking towards blue skies, Kellitt has been rather tethered to current World Rally Championship regulations.
But take a deep breath, dive in and see what the future could hold. Leftfield it might be, but the result is superb. And, surely, a rally-sphere-wide talking point.
This theoretical route combines a real sporting challenge with unrivalled promotional potential and no shortage of old-school appeal. But it's radical - in terms of geography, logistics, funding and anything else ever seen in the WRC.
"We're incredibly fortunate to have a superb relationship with Wales," says Kellitt. "We've been based in Cardiff and Deeside for the past 18 years and in that time, we've built up a huge following for this rally in that part of the world.
"The first day of this new event would have to be in Wales. But, before we get into where the first day is going, we need to decide when it's going to run. I don't mean what time of the year, I mean which days of the week?"
This route reimagining is about challenging convention. Not just for the sake of it, but because every now and then it's worth asking the questions that haven't been asked for a while. For instance, why are WRC events held over Friday-Saturday-Sunday?
If asked, WRC Promoter will immediately point out the cast-iron rule that the powerstage has to be screened at the same time for every event. It's the promoter's big-ticket item and shifting the time would involve significant compromise among worldwide broadcasters.
But what if the trade-off was better-than-ever promotion elsewhere on the event? That would get Kellitt and his Rally GB colleagues to the table to talk WRC waivers.
"It's the most workable way of taking the rally back to what it used to be, a straight-line route visiting numerous parts of the country" Andrew Kellitt
"I've had this idea in the back of my head for a long time," says Kellitt. "It's the most workable way of taking the rally back to what it used to be, a straight-line route visiting numerous parts of the country.
"The plan comes from watching bike races, the big Tours [Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana], which are always held up as the model for running a linear route.
"I started to think about what we might need and if we could make it work. Undoubtedly, it would be more expensive than keeping the rally in one place, but taking it to three very different parts of the UK would open us up to huge swathes of the population and potential funding regions.
"What I have in my head is a working idea that starts from wherever we wanted it to, within reason. As I mentioned, a day in Wales is a great place to start.
"Immediately, I've got to explain the logistics of the idea. There would be no main service park, no central service on this route. We would encourage all the teams to utilise the long-haul style of kits, which require considerably less set-up and dismantle time - that's vital to the plan.
"I understand a lot of the teams will be up in arms at the prospect of not taking their European hospitality structures and I completely understand that - which is why we would look to provide a similar style of temporary structure that could be used by all teams and event sponsors for hospitality at each of the three major halts."
It's time to put some meat on the bone, and so with Kellit's thought paused, this is probably a good place to hear his route overview. How will the three event days look?
"Day one's Wales; day two's Kielder - moving north through the Scottish Borders - and day three is the Trossachs and possibly across to Perthshire.
"Every aspect of the event moves from day to day in the same way it does for the Tour de France. When the teams first arrive in Britain, the trucks would stop off somewhere accessible for the Welsh stages. This could still be Deeside, but that makes the first day more complicated than it needs to be. Or it could be somewhere like Telford or Shrewsbury - which would make it really easy to get into Wales for the day.
"You might think those towns are a bit small, but we need to think of this as a satellite base for the teams. An immediate hit for population would be to take a superspecial through Wolverhampton or even Birmingham on the Thursday night.
"But, once shakedown's done, the teams are away and taking their kit north. By the time the car goes into the first stage in Wales, all the teams' command centre and the rally control is up in Windermere tracking it remotely. The teams don't need anybody on the ground in Wales, but we would have exactly the same safety organisation in place as ever.
"We'd be looking at around 100 kilometres [62 miles] through Wales - nothing vastly different to what we do now. The cars would be out of the town base early, there's still a reasonably trek across to the woods, and then go through mid-Wales taking in stages like Hafren, Dyfi, the usual places and then on up into north Wales for Penmachno and Clocaenog. By early afternoon Friday, the cars would arrive in the loading zone in Ruthin.
'Straight-line' Rally GB route
|Stage km||Road km||Minutes||Due time|
|SS2||Sweet Lamb Hafren||20||10:29|
|End of day||Denbigh||20||1h00m||15:58|
|End of day||Lockerbie||20||46m||16:33|
"The cars go onto a series of transporters and set off immediately for Windermere in the Lakes. The crews then get into the sort of tour buses we see the cyclists use on the Tour of Britain. In these buses, they can get some rest, watch their onboard videos from the recce, debrief with engineers, eat and sleep.
"While they're on their way up the road, the team has already set up the service facility. At around eight in the evening, the cars are unloaded from the transporter on the outskirts of the Lakes and driven into Windermere by the crews.
"The teams are given the usual 45-minute service before bed. Day two starts with Grizedale before heading for Kielder and more of the classics such as Bewshaugh, Wauchope and then north into the Borders and places like Twiglees or Castle O'er.
"If we took this fantastic sport to some of Britain's biggest cities and urban areas - why try to compete with what's going on at the weekend?" Andrew Kellitt
"Once the cars have been serviced and the crews are away to bed, the teams can break down the service and get ready to ship out to Glasgow first thing the next morning. Again, there's no service during the day - with the focal point of the promotion coming in Glasgow.
"By mid-afternoon, we're done with the stages and loading the cars onto the transporter and the crews into their comfortable buses and moving to Glasgow. Early evening, just outside the city, the cars are back on the road and into the centre.
"The final day's around the beautiful Loch Ard and then - this is what I would really like - across the country to Edinburgh for a finish in the castle.
"Now, this takes me back to the start and one of the early questions of why the need to run a Friday-Sunday route? We're taking this fantastic sport to, potentially, some of Britain's top five biggest cities and urban areas - so why try to compete with what's going on at the weekend? Why not go in and really deliver an incredible show in Windermere on a Tuesday night, Glasgow on Wednesday and Edinburgh on Thursday, for example?"
This is the bare bones of a revolution, one that's certainly likeable and thought-provoking. Don't get bogged down in the minutiae of 'where would the stewards be based?' or 'how do we manage the refuels'?
I well remember once guiding Markku Alen through the centre of Turin and overshooting a junction. I told him we needed to make a U-turn across six lanes of traffic. Was it possible?
"Everything," the master said, "is possible."
We made the turn. Now it's time to embrace the change.