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GP Week : Issue 181
GPWEEK: I’m not going to ask you about the rubber and the tyres, as I’m sure you’re sick to death of defending what I actually think are excellent tyres. Instead I want to find out what makes you tick away from Formula One. You’ve got a massive passion for rallying, don’t you? How on earth do you do F1 travel and keep up with what’s happening in the world of rallying? PAUL HEMBERY: Fortunately there’s a lot of good work done by people like yourself, who write about it. The internet has changed how you can follow sport generally, particularly motorsport – you can follow championships all around the world. That’s the beauty of the internet. That would be fantastic – if you could do for rally rubber what you’ve done for F1 rubber... Rallying’s got some different challenges at the moment. It’s got to rebuild itself. It’s got a different promoter, and they’ve got to try and get the impetus that they had in the early ‘00s when there were seven manufacturers present in the WRC. That’s where they’re at, and they’ve got to get a pyramid structure in place for young driver development. There are signs that the work we did with the Academy is carrying on with the juniors... Hopefully it’s the beginning, but the road back is a long and slow process. If they don’t start, they’ll never get there, but hopefully they’re on the right track. It’s different promoting it with the media, isn’t it – moving from stage to stage. It’s a complicated sport. It’s a complicated sport. It’s a time trial as well. But we know from the past that rallying can be something that does appeal to the public. Unfortunately when it was appealing to the public it was probably too dangerous. Group B? Not just Group B – there were other years as well, before Group B, where it had that fascination with the mass public, and we had huge attendance. The RAC was always well-known for having half a million people over the course of a weekend, but you barely get 50,000 today. It needs to get those attendance figures back again. Thereusedtobeasenseoffun–I remember reading about Pat Moss and Bill Wisdom, and they used to do treasure hunt rallies in the middle of the night, finding birds’ nests and the like. Have you ever done anything like that? I’ve not done that. When I was younger I used to do some stuff with my mates where we’d close off a few roads around the Bristol area and do our own little rallies at night time. We had some fun. You can always look back with rose- tinted glasses on some of these things, and I remember back in the early ‘80s when I first saw the Quattros at the RAC Longleat stages. You had the Russell Brookses of the world going through at the time, flying around in their two-wheel drive, real-wheel drive cars. Very spectacular, and everybody was cheering. Then the Quattros went through and everyone was silent. They just went ‘what was that?’. It was so quick – it was winning the stages by over a minute – and so dominating it just wasn’t spectacular. Perfection can be boring, can’t it? Compared to what people were watching – that Mantas were still around then... That was a defining moment for me in rallying. I saw that, and it did make people go ‘meh’. Fans drifted away, and they didn’t really come back till they started going crazy with the horsepower, the 650bhp Delta S4s which – fortunately or unfortunately – I went in last year. I went with Markku Alén on some stages, we launched a new product and Markku and Paolo Andreucci and Juha 5 MINUTES WITH PAUL HEMBERY While Pirelli’s F1 motorsport boss is in the news a lot in 2013, he also has another passion, as KATE WALKER finds out 5 MINUTES 7 GPWEEK.com // 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: