Introducing DirtFish’s new editor

Erstwhile staff writer Alasdair Lindsay returns as Head of Content

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I have a terrible memory. At any given time, there’s a 50/50 chance I won’t know where my keys are. Just a couple of weeks ago, I simply forgot to show up to the theory test I had booked for my motorcycle license. Oops.

But rallying, I remember. Especially the interviews. There have been many but the one that comes to mind here was with Didier Auriol a couple of years ago. It covered a whole array of subjects; the important bit here, though, is Rally Finland, 1988.

Didier had impressed in the odd WRC appearance when given a works car by Ford. A first win had already been and gone at Corsica earlier that year. But there was one keepsake from Jyväskylä he hadn’t expected.

“The big boss of Lancia,” said Auriol, referencing team principal Cesare Fiorio, “just gave me his number and said ‘please call me’. For me it was, poof, incredible!”

Rallye Montecarlo Monte Carlo (MC) 21-26-01 1989

Out of the blue, he’d been offered the keys to one of the most important seats in the world of rallying. Driving a Lancia Delta Integrale adorned with the Martini stripes was a huge responsibility for whoever was lucky enough to be chosen.

Fast forward 35 years and it was my turn, sort of. The phone rang: it was the boss of DirtFish Media, David Evans.

Poof, incredible.

Being at the helm of all the content that flows out of DirtFish’s broad spectrum of channels? This is a big responsibility. And it’s mine now. Eek!

It’s an interesting time to be taking the reins. Rallying is in a bit of a tricky spot. The automotive industry has gone off in a direction that doesn’t align particularly well with rallying’s DNA. Rally1, the ultimate definition of what a rally car is in the present day, hasn’t managed to revitalize the pinnacle of rallying. And our world champion decided he needed a bit of a break from it all.

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DirtFish will continue to do what it has done since its media offering came to life four years ago: provide the most reliable, authoritative, in-depth, and nuanced coverage of rallying there is. But we have another mission now, too: we need to make rallying cool for the masses again. This is a collective responsibility: ours, as a bastion of rallying media. Yours, as a dedicated, passionate fan, whether lifelong or recently indoctrinated, to extol the thrills of rallying to your peers.

My job is to look beyond the WRC, beyond the shine and polish of the service park. It’s about more than the battle for victory at the Monte this month; there are stories to be told everywhere, away from the stages as well as on them.

Last year I found myself side-tracked away from the world of rallying, focused instead on Formula 1. But there was one story I was determined to find the time to tell: turning a Toyota Hiace van into a professionally prepared rally machine.

On paper, the Hiace rally van makes little sense: it costs the same as a Rally4 car but is slower. It handles well but it’s starved of power, being stuck with the factory engine. It’ll never turn a wheel in a world championship event either.

But for me, none of that matters. The Hiace encapsulates rally culture.

Driving from point to point over long distances, across rough surfaces, with someone shouting directions in your ear over an intercom because you’ve only driven the road a couple of times before; rallying isn’t really the most sensible or straightforward way to do motorsport. Just as the Hiace isn’t the most sensible car with which to enter a rally. But that’s the point: there’s method to our madness.

It’s time to show the rest of the world what they’ve been missing out on. And from today, it’s my job to work with you, the community, to make that happen. I don’t plan to forget that bit.

What do you hope to see more of from DirtFish in 2024? Tell us in the comments section below.

Words:Alasdair Lindsay