Throughout 2020 we’ve been reliving the extraordinary 1995 WRC season as it happened. This week the title decider is upon us, so David Evans’ 1995 self caught up with the man behind the route for the season-ending RAC Rally
Six years ago, the man who decides who goes where on this week’s Network Q RAC Rally was sitting in the Eden District Planning office, working out which house goes where in northern England.
Meet Andrew Kellitt. There’s not a lot he doesn’t know about rallying. As a former co-driver – and winner of the legendary Mull Rally in Scotland – Kellitt has seen rallying from all angles. But this week he’ll be seeing the RAC from the inside of rally control in the Moat House, Chester.
AK has spent months working on the 1995 route, a job made all the more complicated by the imposition of the FIA’s new servicing regulations.
“If you look at last year’s route, you’ll see it’s fairly similar to what we have this week,”Kellitt told DirtFish. “Partly that’s because the Chester route we ran last year worked very well and partly because of those new service regulations.
“Twelve months ago, the teams were allowed to work on the rally cars pretty much everywhere they wanted. That’s why we saw so many vehicles coming with each team – every factory team had chase cars, management cars, vans, tyre vans, all sorts. In an effort to cut down on that, the FIA changed the rules and said cars could only be worked on in official areas.
“The teams pushed back on that and pushed the organizers hard to make sure there was plenty of service time available. There aren’t many forest stages on this year’s event which don’t have a 15-minute service after them. It’s been pretty time-consuming work with the regional organizers to go through the stages and find somewhere suitable to close off for service after each stage. But we’ve got it done and hopefully the crews won’t notice too much difference.”
As Kellitt said, the route is remarkably similar with Tatton Park, Chatsworth, Clumber and Donington stages all common to Sunay’s opening leg. Monday’s run up to Kielder stops off in Country Durham for Hamsterley – just like last year – before an extended Pundershaw test sits at the heart of the day’s action. Again, Monday closes with a brace of Grizedale tests before the long trek down the M6 to service in Ellesmere Port.
For the first of two Welsh days on Tuesday, Dyfnant runs just the once this time around (as opposed to bookending the day as it did last season), but it’s followed by Hafren Sweet Lamb, then the run south to Brechfa, Trawscoed and Crychan – with the short Cefn test added in – before a second shot at Sweet Lamb Hafren (the stage reversed from the morning).
And the final day is identical: Pantperthog, Dyfi, Gartheiniong, two Penmachnos and two Clocaenogs.
“We saw good numbers of spectators out last year,” said Kellitt. “I’m sure it’ll be the same story this week. It’s looking likely that we’ll avoid the really wintry weather we saw when we were based out of Birmingham a couple of years ago – but there will still be plenty to challenge the world’s best this week.”
And putting together the route for Britain’s biggest motorsport event is challenge enough for Kellitt.
He continued: “With a sponsor like Network Q – like Lombard before – we’re not tied to one region and the rally can roam around Britain, which is historically what the RAC has been famous for.
“I remember a few years ago [in 1990] I didn’t include the stages in Wales at all – we did two loops of Yorkshire instead. It’s good to be able to have the opportunity to make innovations like that. That was, of course, also the first year we were running a recce, so making a route slightly more compact around Harrogate was preferable to the crews having to come back over the M62 to Harrogate from a stage in Clocaenog late in the day.
“But the challenge for me is making something different and finding a new way to challenge the crews. Like Pundershaw this year, for example. We’ve gone with the full 36-miler…”
Kellitt knows Yorkshire, the Lakes and Wales well, but he knows Kielder like the back of his hand. When the Cumbria Rally lost its place in the national championship a decade ago, it was Kellitt who took it on and rebuilt it into one of Britain’s best.
“It was a long drawn-out event when I took it over,” he said. “For the first year, I changed it and made it an evening event starting at six in the evening, going up to Kielder for five long stages and finishing 11 o’clock at night.
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“There’s a school of thought with some organisers, who shy away from running long stages – just in case they get cancelled and you lose a chunk of your mileage. My philosophy is group the stages together, run longer ones and provide a real challenge – then make sure they don’t get cancelled!”
It’s that philosophy that AK brings to Britain’s World Rally Championship round this week. And it’s for that very reason that the event remains one of the season toughest events. And biggest prizes.
We’ll be reliving the RAC Rally ‘as live’ through the rest of this week on our social media channels – look out for the #95Live hashtag on @dirtfishrally on Twitter – and with daily reports on the website, plus a unique exclusive video.
1995 Network Q RAC Rally itinerary
Sunday, November 19
SS1 Tatton Park (4.94 miles) 0900
SS2 Chatsworth (5.26 miles) 1036
SS3 Clumber Park (5.11 miles) 1225
SS4 Donington 1 (3.85 miles) 1408
SS5 Donington 2 (3.85 miles) 1421
SS6 Rother Valley (2.56 miles) 1559
SS7 Leeds (2.74 miles) 1707
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Monday, November 20
SS8 Hamsterley (16.92 miles) 0758
SS9 Pundershaw (36.61 miles) 1021
SS10 Broomylinn (11.45 miles) 1203
SS11 Wauchope (8.80 miles) 1243
SS12 Kershope (22.54 miles) 1342
SS13 Grizedale West (17.39 miles) 1708
SS14 Grizedale East (4.73 miles) 1747
Tuesday, November 21
SS15 Dyfnant (13.46 miles) 0730
SS16 Hafren Sweet Lamb (15.84 miles) 0903
SS17 Brechfa (20.27 miles) 1134
SS18 Trawscoed (22.82 miles) 1229
SS19 Crychan (10.97 miles) 1416
SS20 Cefn (5.64) 1443
SS21 Hafren Sweet Lamb (17.90 miles) 1648
Wednesday, November 22
SS22 Pantperthog (9.58 miles) 0738
SS23 Dyfi (14.62 miles) 0808
SS24 Gartheiniog (9.16 miles) 0843
SS25 Penmachno South (8.36 miles) 1047
SS26 Penmachno North (6.28 miles) 1108
SS27 Clocaenog West (3.75 miles) 1225
SS28 Clocaenog East (12.05 miles) 1237