ZOO Visits The Rally de Espana!
Rally driving is a fantastic sport. It’s fast, it’s dangerous and the cars themselves look amazing – both before and after a gigantic crash. In fact, the only possible way the sport could be any better would be if the cars had one of our topless beauties sitting in the backseat in each race as a prerequisite.
So when we finally got our hands on the new WRC 2 game we just couldn’t wait to tear it around the circuits in our pimped up car of choice - usually a sporty Citroën DS3. To quickly throw our opinion into the ring, we’ve got to say it’s a damn fine game. Dirt 3 might be tearing away like current champion Sebastien Loeb, but there’s nothing compared to playing with the official teams, circuits and a general dollop more realism. At last, there's a rally game that actually concentrates on rally driving and not skidding around corners at 90mph like a moron, ala Ridge Racer style.
It took some time (and a fair few horrendous crashes), but we’ve got pretty good at the game; we could even give Britain’s Kris Meeke a run for his money! But all that pixelated devastation and carnage got us thinking about how stupidly hazardous it must be for all those on the sidelines: one minute you could be eating a burger, then BAM! A Ford Fiesta to the face!
So, crash helmet in hand, ZOO jetted off to the Rally de Espana in Salou to follow two death-dodging photographers and find out just how dangerous it can get living on the edge.
“Just so you know, I nearly got run over on this circuit last year,” warns Les Kolczak, lead photographer for Team Ford. "This guy had a puncture and he came into this ‘S’ corner and I had my back to the car. Quick tip: you never want to have your back to a rally car.
"Anyway it went off right where I was. I was standing up a two-foot bank with a wall of people behind me, so I had nowhere to go. I remember thinking, 'Christ, this is it; I’m just waiting for the impact and my legs to break,' but it didn’t hit me. This wall of dirt kicked up and, don’t ask me how, but the car ricocheted off the bank of dirt.”
“We’re usually pretty safe, to be honest,” admits freelance photographer Maurice Selden. “We might only be inches away from the cars, but usually the most dangerous thing is rocks the size of house bricks being kicked out by the cars. Once, we were in Scotland and one guy from the film crew got hit. It cracked his skull with ease - there was blood everywhere!"
“You still don’t know what could happen with every race,” explains Kolczak. “We were in Cyprus and this Subaru kicked out a rock the size of a boulder, which flew over everyone’s heads and completely destroyed the side of a Range Rover. A yard or two lower and that would have been head height!
“It’s true that we don’t know what could happen, but it’s nothing like Portugal 1986 anymore [when Joaquim Santos accidentally veered into the crowd, killing 3 spectators and injuring many others]. We know the dangers, but we always get the shot at the end of the day.”
As impressed as ZOO was by WRC 2, we were easily far more impressed with the cars and the Rally de Espana – a kind of thrill video games will never quite master. So, if any of you rally junkies out there think you’re brave enough to stand on the sidelines as the cars hurtle past, we’d definitely recommend you head down to the final race of the season in Wales (10–13 November), as the Championship tussle between leader Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen comes to an exciting conclusion.