Tuesday | 06 Apr 2021

My perfect rally: Seb Marshall

Looking on from the passenger seat, Seb Marshall has taken on some of the most epic roads in the world, placing him in prime position to design his perfect WRC rally - including one stage on his future wish list!

"I’ve compiled my perfect rally based on what I’ve experienced of current and past (plus one potential future) WRC stages. There are doubtless some glaring omissions, but I can only go on what I know!"

Alghero Service Area - Rally Italia Sardegna

The juxtaposition of ageing locals sipping on espressos and reading the paper sat just metres away from battle scarred cars and fatigued drivers waiting to go into service in Alghero harbour always amused me. But that’s the charm, the action is in the heart of the town, and normal life carries on regardless. The finish of the event includes the now traditional (and refreshing in June temperatures) jump into the sea for the winners. Plus the beach side bar for the after party was great!

SSS: Circus Maximus - Rally Germany

Four cars at a time racing round the historic Roman streets of Trier, what’s not to love?! Wide roads, low kerbs so you can cut the corners, and the thrill of the chase!

SSS: Circus Maximus - Rally Germany

Gravel: Whaanga Coast - Rally New Zealand

I’ve never competed on this one but I have recced it and even that was a pleasure! The rhythm of this stage is so satisfying (as are pretty much all NZ stages from what I’ve seen) and the scenery is incredible. Smooth roads, cambered corners and a reputation up there with the very best, it remains a bucket list stage for me. 

Gravel: Nambucca - Rally Australia

It’s got a bit of everything, from technical sections through the gum trees to flat out over rolling crests & jumps in the open paddocks, there’s a brilliant flow to the stage. The Coffs Coast in spring time is glorious too, with blossoming jacaranda trees lining the road, the only downside is the warm temps usually mean a lot of loose gravel, so road position is key to a good time and enjoyment of the stage. 

Gravel: Kakaristo - Rally Finland

I’d love to include Ouninphoja here, having watched that video of Petter [Solberg] & Phil [Mills’] record-breaking run countless times. Alas, I’ve never done the full stage though, so this will have to suffice. The iconic stage of Rally Finland, one for the brave - the buzz from nailing the notes as you literally float from stage start to finish is almost unparalleled, as evidenced by my “Yee Haa!” as we crossed the line in 2018.

Gravel: Kakaristo - Rally Finland

Asphalt: Vallinco - Tour de Corse

In truth almost any stage in Corsica could make the cut for the perfect rally, it’s such a demanding but rewarding rally, especially for a co-driver. This stage is about as ‘classic’ as they come, sinuously following the path of a river for the most part, the corners are relentless but it’s not slow by any means. You can usually rely on consistent grip and the modern-day WRC car aero and centre differential mean those medium speed corners are mind bending fast, blink and you miss it, so you have to be super sharp reading the notes. 

Asphalt: The Glens - Rally GB

This Northern Irish stage is a bit of a cheat having never been used in WRC but that being said, with Northern Ireland currently working towards one day hosting a round, I hope this stage will feature. It is epic, often referred to as Ouninpohja on tarmac, which probably tells you all you need to know! The first half is a fast and narrow blast across bumpy moorland roads, descending the Glens to sea level before the best rollercoaster you’ll ever encounter really begins. The Torr Head section of road is a real test of skill & bravery, requiring ultimate trust in your pacenotes. It’s fast and medium width, but the elevation changes are what make this so challenging - plenty of blind crests and jumps take 100% concentration, so sadly no time to enjoy the amazing views out to the Irish Sea on the Antrim coastline. 

Asphalt: Ronde - Sanremo

Going way back to the 80s and 90s for the monster Ronde stage. Nestled in the hills behind Sanremo this marathon stage has been used in many configurations. Essentially a loop, it connects the villages of Perinaldo, Apricale, Bajardo and San Romolo, with many changes in character - varying grip, road width, and speed, but always corner, corner, corner. Best enjoyed under cover of darkness, it’s a special sensation to drive with the spotlights on, almost like tunnel vision, only punctuated briefly with flashes of light from the spectators and houses in each village, before disappearing into the night once more. 

Asphalt: Ronde - Sanremo

Power Stage: Myherin - Rally GB*

I remember spectating here before I used to compete and being in awe of the cars hurtling past. So, to be inside the car and seeing my family stood at the roadside watching me go by is a particularly special memory. Whether in glorious autumn sunlight or dense fog it’s always an enjoyable experience in Myherin. The many distinct sections of the stage offer such great variation in character, from the Pikes Peak hill climb to the open expanse through the windmills, plunging back into the forest and then opening out to the moorland once more. It’s all pretty quick, a classic stage of Rally GB, and a fitting finale to push to maximum in search of power stage points!

*Myherin has not (yet) been run as a Wolf Power Stage, but Seb sees it as his perfect finish to the rally!

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