Hi everyone. We’ve had a few very good questions over the initial info for this year’s Beatson’s Building Supplies Mull Rally – thank you for some very healthy engagement. We tried to answer as much as we could in Rally Guide 1, but some deserve a bit more detail. So your volunteer organising team, the majority of whom active or recent competitors, thought it best to put together a short Q&A, on some of the regular themes:-
* What’s the script with the Friday? And the Saturday night?
This year fundamentally is focussed around making the event more streamlined, easier to run, more financially sustainable going forward, and making some use of the opportunities available to us since 2019. As well as this, we wanted to go back to the heritage and history of the event, focus the event back on the Saturday night from which it originated, and also retain the sporting interest deeper into the event. In the event’s history, the Saturday day leg started out as a “prologue” appetiser ahead of the meat of the rally on the Saturday night, and this focusses back on those roots. This year’s is the longest Saturday night in 15+ years, at 63 stage miles, running 7pm to the wee hours – basically combining the two night legs. To balance the man hours of this for our volunteer marshals, we have to make compromises elsewhere, and that’s why the Friday leg is a bit shorter.
We’re also really conscious that we have to make the rally attractive to newcomers in an increasingly competitive market – but also sociable, ideally with lots of short stages and a chance to catch up with fellow competitors at stage arrivals, as well as a few more opportunities to showcase the beauty of the island in daylight. This led to the idea of a couple of short stages in daylight, to make things welcoming and inclusive for newcomers, focused on lower populace roads to minimise community impact, and from a sporting perspective, to reduce the chance of catching cars or of notional timings impacting things, and seed the field – driven by our recent experiences as competitors, and reflecting changes on other events. And then round out the leg with the return of an old favourite at night, Hill Road / Glen Aros, with the atmosphere at Smiddy Junction in Dervaig at a sociable hour. There’s scope to grow it for future years, including the potential return of Ardtun for example.
* Why is the overall stage mileage down from 148 to 133 miles?
As competitors we have sought to make the route more ‘no nonsense’, and cut down on the amount of times bits of road are used on different stages / note changes have to be carried across, and make things easier, more efficient and smarter for recce – allowing those of you who make a holiday of the event to spend more time enjoying the island, and those who are focused on a compact recce experience to make this more manageable. Feedback from our route note suppliers – OnThePaceNote and Scotmaps – on their initial recces in recent week, is that the route does just this – comments including “fair play great route, and relatively straight forward recce!”, which reassures us that it’s delivering what we hoped it would, and we hope competitors will find likewise.
This is our first pass of such a route concept, and there’s scope to grow it in future years. This year’s Mull Rally is still the longest and toughest annual stage rally in Great Britain & Northern Ireland, and we want to keep it that way.
* Why has the entry fee increased from £875 to £985?
Despite a full entry in 2022, we actually made a substantial financial loss. If there’s to be a rally in years to come, we can’t keep that up. After several years of holding our entry fee down low, getting the event’s finances on a sustainable footing is one of our top priorities. In line with the rest of the world, we’ve been faced with massive cost increases in the last year or two, including a doubling of some of our safety stakeholder costs, which has a near five-figure impact. After a thorough market analysis, we’ve ensured that event remains under £8/mile, which means Mull is still the best ‘bang for buck’ closed road rally in Great Britain & Northern Ireland this year. All of our numbers indicate the entry fee should be several hundred pounds higher, but we have been determined to keep the entry fee under £1,000 to ensure value – this simply would not be possible without the continued support from Beatson’s Building Supplies, EventScotland, Argyll & Bute Council and all our other valued partners.
* Why has The Long One been shortened, from 22mi to 16.5mi?
Two things mainly – fuel mileage, and more efficiency of our safety services. The 30-miler in 2022 proved to us that competitors should be OK on fuel, and we’ve also seen this with other events which have around 30-mile loops, but based on what other events have seen, we’re not comfortable to push this to around 40 miles. After last year, we were also very conscious that with some longer stages, including the 30-mile Very Long One and 14-mile long daytime stage, some competitors lost a chunk of mileage. Not only have we reserved some entries this year for competitors so affected, but we’ve tried to focus the event on more shorter stages, with plenty of re-route options, to try and maximise the chance of the whole field getting as many stages as possible. Again this is something we can look at rejigging and refining for 2024.
* Why no Tobermory on the Friday?
We’ve listened – though it’s a bit more road miles, the Friday start will be returning Tobermory, with the Saturday night start moving to Salen. After last year we’ve also listened and focused scrutineering entirely back on Tobermory this year.
* How will the Saturday Gruline service work?
The original intent was ~50 miles no service, for a real challenge, but competitor feedback was that for safety, in case the weather turns, it’s probably better to include a Tyre Fitting Zone or similar – that said, we would welcome feedback on the idea of the meaty Saturday day leg for future years. Gruline service was driven by 2022 and seeking to reduce service traffic up/down the Sound of Mull, and competitor feedback seeking a hark back to the management service days, which we can’t do under new-for-2023 rules from Motorsport UK. We’ve listened to your feedback on the challenges of this, and will be returning Saturday daytime service to the Tobermory area, for this year.
* Is there still time for the stages to be changed this year?
No. The road closures are subject to a lengthy legal process under the Motor Sport on Public Roads Scotland Regulations 2019, and have been through a public island community consultation process in December/January. The road closures have been applied for as of April – six months prior, as laid down by the law – so we’re pretty committed as this point.
* Is there scope for more competitor engagement/involvement in the design of the route?
Yep, this is something we can look at for 2024. We already take into consideration the post-event competitor feedback forms, as well as all the other variables we have sight of, every time we develop the following year’s route in November each year. Doing more than this is an extra level of admin that other events don’t go through, and it’s not something the event has undertaken in the past, all through the 2300 Club days to the present – including the adding of the daytime leg in the ‘70s, and the Friday night in the ‘80s. But given how special Mull is, it might be something worth looking at.
If you’ve made it this far… well done! Hopefully that all makes sense!
Regulations will be published on Wednesday 12th July on www.mullrally.org. In the meantime, if there’s anything you need at all, please feel free to message the page, or contact the team on email@example.com