29 Jul: Mach1 – Look-back

… Mach1 Observations and Opinions …

Whilst standing in the sunshine at the start of the Mach1 Stages Rally in the Mull of Kintyre the other weekend, I was reminded of an incident the previous weekend where two drivers at the top of their game clashed. Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari struck Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on the first lap of the British Grand Prix, and the sporting news industry went into overdrive. The resultant histrionics generated headlines and conspiracy theories around the world, especially in the non motor sporting press.

But what did this do for the wider image of motor sport and what impression did it make on youngsters and newcomers to the sport?

Of course, the Mach1 Stages bears no comparison to an F1 Grand Prix. Yet there I was standing in the midst of an airfield thinking about events and their outcomes on this grandest of stages.

What happened some 480 miles to the north of Silverstone was that two leading cars also clashed at the rally. On the first stage, Donnie MacDonald had overshot a tight left hairpin so had to regain rally route through a gap in the line of one tonne bales. As he regained the road, Tom Blackwood rounded the hairpin. Both drivers unsighted and unaware of the other’s approach. The cars kissed and Blackwood spun off with slightly bent steering although he completed the stage.

Back at the service area MacDonald went looking for Blackwood and the two met face to face. MacDonald thrust out his hand and apologised profusely, Blackwood grasped it and waved off his apology. “Dinnae be daft,” he said, “these things happen in motor sport”.

MacDonald pressed on and asked if he could help, and again he was waved off. The two men exchanged a few more pleasantries, had a joke and a laugh, and shook hands again. At one point I thought a bucket of cold water might be needed to separate them.

But the concern was genuine and the apology accepted in good spirit.

Oddly enough, the incident came back to mind later in the day. When the prop shaft broke on Ian Paterson’s Subaru, the call went out round the service park. Could anyone help? He was fighting for 3rd place overall at the time and yet there was a “queue of folk lining up to offer me a spare,” he said.

Despite having trouble of his own after nerfing a bale and pushing the radiator against the pulleys, Simon Proud was first on the scene with his spare propshaft, thrust it at Ian and went back to his own car to finish his own repairs. “I could have cuddled the man,” said Paterson, prompting more thoughts of the need for another bucket of cold water!

In fact all round that service park there were good deeds being done by rivals helping out each other.

Methinks a pair of overpaid professionals could learn a thing or two about sporting behaviour and humility from their amateur counterparts, eh?