Thursday 14th November – Arrival day
by Shane Marriott
Having left the boat at about 7.00AM, it was hard to know what to do for the 2 hours we had before we could go shopping in the town. We found an open Safeways and got ourselves stocked up with the essentials. We had a challenge on our hands. We needed to get it all into the car which took a bit of effort and a squashed loaf of bread, cheers Brooky!!
In the town, more shopping was on the menu, with Brooky once again stealing the limelight and buying new boots, gators and other accessories from Millets. This was once again a problem trying to get it all into the car. The purchasing was topped off during a short stop at Halfords. Brooky purchased himself a 120 piece socket set, no more purchasing today then… the car can’t hold much more!!
We entered Wales at 14.27 with the sun shining and a clear run to Cardiff.
With no major problems we found the Post office where the keys to our cottage home could be found. Brooky managed to look completely innocent when collecting them and received a box of ‘essential supplies’! We found the cottage in the middle of nowhere with no other houses even visible, would be great for a party!
Friday 15th November – First Day Of The Rally
by Leigh Brookes**
Today we went to Brechfa to watch two stages of the rally. We got up at 5.30 and left the cottage by 6.15. We arrived at the car park not long after 7.00 am and made our way to the viewing area to stake our place. We could not see a huge amount of the course but were very impressed by the noise and smells of the cars!! By about 9am, having been awake for 3.5 hours, it was time for breakfast; cue the stove and some bacon sandwiches. A quick coffee later and we were ready for our great trek through the woodland to try and get a better view for the next stage. We went for a walk in the woodland but made about 30 metres in 15 minutes – a bit of a failure!! We trekked down to our new viewing point and waited for the stage to start. We were hugely impressed with the ethnic diversity of the spectators. It turned out that some piss heads had caused the rally stage to be cancelled because they would not move – we were not happy.
We went back to the car and left for Walters arena and followed a load of Scubies and other beasts. We parked and went to claim a place before going off to pay for a hugely overpriced burger and chips. The stage started and was most impressive. We went to leave and got stuck in a traffic jam for 1.5 hours without moving or getting out of the car. When we went to turn the engine on and go we found we had a flat battery!! We managed to get a push start from some other friendly rally enthusiasts and we were soon going again – sort of – we got stuck in yet more traffic for another 20 minutes after leaving the car park. We went to the local co-op and brought some food for tea before heading back to the place we would call home for the next few days. We knocked up a delicious feast of London grill and buttered bread with a box of chocolate fingers for dessert. We then reviewed the tapes from the camcorder of the days rally and the comedy moments from the night before.
The evening was topped off by an early(ish) night for yet another 5.30 start.
Saturday 16th November – Second Day Of The Rally
by Leigh Brookes**
The day started as usual again with yet another early start – 5.30 to be exact. After getting up and putting on 3 layers of coats, fleece jackets and jumpers, we headed out of the door for the forest stage of Resolsfen. We got there a bit later than we hoped and had a long drive down a small quarry track before we could park by the side of the road. On with the hiking boots and gaiters and off on a 40 minute hike up a rather large hill. We soon found a space to setup the cameras and patiently waited for Colin and co to come racing past us. We had a great view of the cars coming round a fast left hand corner, heading down a short straight and then a quick right then left corner. After seeing the WRC cars go past us we started to head back to the car so that we could get to the service area at Felindre to see the cars arriving. We managed to get there in time to see Colin Mcrae arrive as well as Seastion Loeb and Markus Gronholm. After seeing the cars being serviced we headed for the merchandise tents that had been put up. We mostly resisted the temptation to spend an obscene amount of money on Ralliart jackets and other assorted goodies and instead resorted to trying to get as much free stuff as possible. Our best acquisitions came from the very kind people at Immrasat who gave us ponchos, beanie hats and funny little note holders. We also managed to get an assortment of free posters, stickers and promotional goodies. We made our way back to the car with our newly acquired goods and decided to make some food in the car park. We knocked up some bacon sandwiches and some coffee on the little camping stove in front of the car before heading back to the cottage to get changed and take the opportunity to sit down for a while. On the way we managed to find a garage with a jet wash as the car was in desperate need of a clean as it looked as if it had been competing in the rally. Later that afternoon we made our way to Cardiff to watch the super special event. We got the park and ride from one of the sports stadiums and then walked to the arena. We managed to get a good view and waited for the stage to start. Before the stage actually started we saw the best fireworks display that we had ever seen. Soon the stage had started and we were in for a treat as the leaders of the rally – Solberg and martin were going head to head with a 2 second gap between the two of them prior to this stage. Other highlights included Mcrae spinning it in a head to head battle with Burns and losing 20 seconds. About 10 seconds after the last race, half of the 10000 strong crowd decided to try and get back on the park and ride buses. Something resembling total chaos ensued and to cut a long story short we were waiting in a queue for and hour to get the bus back to the car park. We finally got back to the cottage at 10.45 with the prospect of another early start.
Sunday 17th November – Final Day Of The Rally
by Leigh Brookes**
In the interests of getting some sleep we decided to miss out the first stage of the day and instead get up a bit later and get our stuff packed and clean the cottage a bit. We managed to get the car packed by 9.45 and drove off to drop the keys back. We made our way to Margam Park for two stages. After a bit of a navigation problem where we and about 50 other cars all went down the wrong lane, we managed to get to the stage on time. We had got there a bit late to get a good viewing place. We managed to climb on a wooden fence and balance our selves on there for half an hour whilst filming the cars go past. We decided to move to another area for the second running of the stage and got a good view of a tight hairpin corner into a long straight. After the stage had finished we went to have a quick look at the merchandise tents again. On the way we had to cross the exit of the stage where the cars were leaving the stage. When we were crossing this area we almost got run over by Marko Martin as the crowd of people that we were in was pushed apart by the stewards and Marko attempted to drive through. When we got to the tents we managed to resist temptation again and only brought 2 hats and 2 t-shirts between us. After a short walk back to the car we were in the familiar position of being stuck in a traffic jam as we attempted to get on the M4 to get down to Weymouth. We arrived in Weymouth about 9.30 after stopping off at a hugely overpriced service station for some food and a break. We took a walk along the seafront in Weymouth to try and find a hotel to stay in a s the car did not seem like an ideal place to sleep in as it was stuffed full of bags and things. We finally found a hotel that had vacancies called the Golden Seafront Hotel. It was a bit of a dive but it had a TV, beds and a shower which was quite welcoming. After a few cans of Fosters that we had left it was time to set the alarms for the morning when we had to get up and head for the boat at 8.30.