Rally di Roma DirtFish diary: Roads that don’t lead to Rome

Colin Clark and David Evans take the long route to rallying's return


That thing: mīlle viae dūcunt hominēs per saecula Rōman. Yeah, that thing. It’s nonsense.

A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome?

Not when Colin Clark’s navigating. We’ve been aboard the DirtFish bus (a Hyundai Italy-sourced Tucson) about an hour and we’ve completed 80 kilometers. Some 60 of those have been in the wrong direction, and about 20 in the vague direction of the Italian capital.

Clark is living proof all roads do not lead to Rome.

Four months on from fleeing a shortened Rally México, it’s fabulous to be back on the road. Regardless of where it might or might not be going.

For the next week and a bit, Colin and I will endeavour to keep DirtFish readers entertained with a diary of our efforts to stay ahead of two rallies and some of the most fever-filled terrain in the history in the week between.

Today’s day started early with an alarm at 0200 for the red-eye out of Heathrow bound for Milan. Now, bit of Italian geography for you: it might look like Rome’s just a hop, skip and a jump from Milan to Bologna to Florence to Rome, but there’s a bit more to it than that – not least because the rally’s based an hour down the road in Fiuggi. Not Rome.

So, close to eight hours after we left Milan, and 14 and a bit after getting out of bed, we walked into the beautiful Hotel Villa Igea in Fiuggi.

It’s fair to say, the day hasn’t been entirely straightforward. For some reason, we ended up with twice as many sandwiches as we ‘ordered’ at the Autogrill somewhere down a mid-Toscana autopista; Colin did a lot of shouting at the highway ticket machine and I managed to spill a significant amount of cappuccino down my sweater. Fortunately, we’d ‘ordered’ twice as many coffees, so I was able to start again with my second one.

The long trip, spilled drinks and large lunch all paled into insignificance when we caught sight of a Škoda Fabia R5 waiting to pull out of a junction. Slamming on the anchors (which came as something of a surprise to the chap behind) we let car #20 out and sat and stared in traffic. It was like spotting a long-lost friend across a crowded room.

Rally cars, we’ve missed the sight, the sound and the smell.

But the wait is over.

The European Rally Championship and Rally di Roma begin tomorrow and we can start writing, talking and filming the finest sport in the world once more.

Hello again.