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Racing to rally

9 months ago

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Henry Catchpole | Journalist


22 September 2023

I’m not sure I ever gave the drivers enough credit back in the days of T-cars. Murray and Martin would always comment on what fine athletes modern F1 pilots were as they sprinted for the pits after a first lap crash, although surely none was ever finer than Brundle himself, as he proved after emerging unscathed from his impromptu inverted fly-by at Melbourne in 1996.

It was usually something of a steeplechase, too; pit walls vaulted, marshals dodged, gravel traps traversed. A mad dash to reach a spare car (which, as reliably as a USB never fitting on the first try, would inevitably have been set up for the other driver in the team that weekend). They always seemed to get there just in time for a restart, however. Perhaps Bernie Ecclestone ensured there was always strategic sweeping of the final sundry shards of carbon fibre to allow for maximum repopulation of the grid?

Anyway, running in a romper suit and race boots is hard. My own personal sprint started down a flight of metal stairs, still slightly damp with dew or maybe someone’s slopped coffee. Moments before I’d had a microphone in hand after helping out with some supercar commentary. Now it was round some hay bales and sidestep a stroller before picking a route through the crowds and towards the cricket pitch. My Stilo helmet swinging from my right hand like an unwieldy relay baton, I wondered briefly if it might not have been easier to wear it. But maintaining a good posture could have been tricky.

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