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Q&A: Russell Brookes - EXCLUSIVE.

by Rob Wilkins



TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RUSSELL BROOKES: CLICK HERE


1977 and 1985 British Rally champion, Russell Brookes was at the Castle Combe Rallyday in the UK last month. Crash.net Radio caught up with him to get his thoughts on that event - and the state of rallying in general today...


Crash.net:
Russell, you are at the Rallyday today, have you been enjoying it?

Russell Brookes:
It is absolutely fabulous. They manage to combine so many successful things, such as top drivers, top cars and above all top spectators. It is the most enthusiastic crowd I have mixed with in ages and it is great fun because of that.

Crash.net:
You have been out on track too, haven't you?

RB:
I have taken out the Opel Manta 400 that I used in 1985 and 1986 – and which I won the Welsh International Rally with in 1987. It has been in a Swiss museum for most of its life and it feels like being re-united with the car as it was. I have also had the privilege of driving the Sunbeam Lotus, which I used on the 1981 RAC. It is a great day - a lot of nostalgia.

Crash.net:
Are you surprised by how many people have turned out?

RB:
I am because although the event is very, very good, the previous two years have been marred by torrential downpours - but it obviously doesn't dampen the enthusiasm of a rally spectator. There are thousands and thousands here and they are great company to be with. They remember so much and you get people coming along and saying: 'Do you remember the ditch I lifted you out of in 1976 in Dolby Forest?' - or something like that. Things you don't want to be reminded of sometimes! [laughs].

Crash.net:
Do you still keep an eye on rallying in general?

RB:
I do and I have to say unlike many people of my age - who tend to have a bit of a down on modern rallying because it is not as arduous and not as long - I take my hat off to the modern day rally drivers. They are driving incredibly fast and of course, unlike in my day, when, if you did a pace-note event and not all events were pace-note events, but if you did a pace-note event you practiced it endlessly. Whereas today they just get two runs over the special stage - once to make the notes at slow speed and once to check them - and then they drive incredibly fast on them. They are very professional and very fit sportsmen.

Crash.net:
The WRC this year has been a bit of a two-horse race - between Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb for the drivers' title. But the event in New Zealand was very remarkable wasn't it, given they finished only 0.3 seconds apart after three-days of competition?

RB:
It was – although of course when I was rallying they didn't even measure the gap to decimals of a second. It was just one whole second and the closest you got to it! It is a pity it is a two-horse race this year however. I think the organisers of the World Rally Championship have got to do something to bring in more manufacturers and until that happens I don't think you will see a revival.

Crash.net:
The WRC calendar is going to be slashed from 16 events to 12 in 2009. Do you think that is a step in the right direction?

RB:
It is tinkering at the edges to be honest with you. I don't think it makes too much difference whether you have 12 or 16 events. The cost is in the car and the set-up and everything. I am sure the cost of actually doing the events is not that great. It may be a modest cost saving, which is welcome to some of the teams - but it is not the total answer to the whole thing.

Crash.net:
Will the WRC miss Marcus Gronholm?

RB:
I think if Marcus continued he would lose interest a little bit and probably get a bit slower next year and a bit slower the year after. Then you see the circumstances that you never like to see where an absolute great is on his way down the ladder, rather than up the ladder. I think it is time for him to call it a day then unless rallying is still truly in his blood. If you win you are of course always under pressure to go on. It is the losing that makes you give up. I am sure all the other drivers are like me, I hated losing and I eventually retired because I lost too much!


TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH RUSSELL BROOKES: CLICK HERE


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Russell Brookes
Tony Mason interviews former BRC champion Russell Brookes
Russell Brookes
Elfyn Evans and Gwyndaf Evans. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: John Sulman]
Tribute parade for Bjorn Waldegard. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Metro 6R4 celebrations. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Markku Alen. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Markko Martin. Richard Tuthill Porsche 997 RGT. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Harri Toivonen. Metro 6R4. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Gwyndaf Evans. MML Sports Mitsubishi WRC05. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Elfyn Evans. M-Sport Fiesta R5. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Elfyn Evans and Gwyndaf Evans. Interview stage. Rallyday 2014 [Pic credit: RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Lanica Stratos. Rallyday 2006 [Pic credit: Syd Wall / RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Metro 6R4. Rallyday 2013 [Pic credit: Mark Sims / RallyingOnline Ltd - www.rallygallery.com]
Sebastien Ogier. Group B Audi Quattro A2. Castle Combe. Rallyday 2013 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Sebastien Ogier. Group B Audi Quattro A2. Castle Combe. Rallyday 2013 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Sebastien Ogier. Group B Audi Quattro A2. Castle Combe. Rallyday 2013 [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]
Castle Combe. Rallyday 2013. [Pic credit: Andy Crayford - Crayfordmedia.com]

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