A few weeks back, the World Rally Championship rolled, or rather slid, into the Coffs Coast for the 2016 edition of the recently revived Australian Rally. What followed was a weekend of dust, incredible driving, more dust and the occassional barrell roll thrown in for good measure. Luckily, I was there as an official to capture the whole event from a unique perspective. Here’s what I found.
“It isn’t until you are centimeters away from a World Rally Championship car that you grasp their sense of speed and an understanding of the driver’s skill. With a 0-100km/h time of less than four seconds and a top speed of more than 200km/h, it hits you straight away exactly what these cars are capable of.
Seeing a World Rally Championship event from an official’s perspective is something very few people have the opportunity to do, however recently I found myself in the privileged position of being a member of the 2016 Coffs Harbour WRC Recovery Team.
Seeing drivers such as Sébastien Ogier, Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo fly through the course, mostly sideways, is something incredible. Having said this, there is only one thing more exciting than seeing a $1 million rally car flying around a corner, and that is seeing one go rolling down a hill just after a crash – unfortunate yet spectacular!
Watching some of the drivers such as Eric Camilli in their Ford Focus rolling their cars only to be briskly flipped back over by the recovery team on to all four wheels and wait for a tow truck was a study in resilience. Near misses are a frequent part of the WRC stage, however M-Sport driver Mads Østberg nearly sent his car spinning roof-first into a set of track-side trees, only just managing to keep control of the vehicle.
Being an official for the WRC 2016 was an amazing experience with roles varying from crowd control to manning the run-off zones and being on standby when a vehicle needed recovery. The crowd during the event was excellent, the track was dusty, the cars were fast, and the weekend was huge fun.
I strongly urge everyone who hasn’t attended a World Rally event to do so! With skills like these drivers and co-drivers have, and access to the technology such as that in their cars, it makes for a truly exhilarating and non-stop heart-pounding viewing experience! I’ll certainly be back in 2017.”
Feature Image: Skoda Motorsport