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Sportsmanship

October 5, 2020

I always treated my participation in rallying as something fun and challenging to do, and I never worried too much about winning things (although I won a trophy in the very first rally I ever competed in). Playing the game was always more important to me than winning the game.

I navigated a few times in a Cooper S driven by my friend Bob Jones. One of these rallies was unusual for the time because it was run totally in daylight. It consisted of two sections on Saturday (morning and afternoon) in the forests around Hampton. The final section was on the Hills circuit behind the Hampton Halfway House Hotel on the Sunday morning.

At some time on the Saturday we came across a couple of our friends hanging upside down in their Moke which had managed to roll itself off the road and end up sitting on the top of the roll cage. We stopped to help of course and managed to release their belts without dropping them onto their heads, got them out of the car and turned the vehicle up the right way. There didn't seem to be any damage to either the car or the occupants, so we got the thing back onto the road and they continued on.

To get to the upturned Moke we had to park the Mini on the side of the road, because there was nowhere else to go (the Moke had managed to jump a small embankment before falling over). While we were rescuing the Moke and occupants another competitor came along. The driver shouted abuse at us for partially blocking the road. We ignored him, because doing anything else would have subtracted time from the real job we had to do.

Many of the competitors stayed at the hotel overnight and we were treated to a massive whinge from the driver who had been inconvenienced by our parked car earlier in the day. He was loudly telling everyone who would listen that we had delayed him and possibly cost him the chance to win the event. The way he was carrying on you would have thought that there were scouts from WRC teams there and his misfortune could cost him a works drive. I'm usually a peaceful person and I managed to resist the temptation to break a chair over his head. Two of my friends had been in a potentially dangerous situation (upside down in a vehicle with no sides, and petrol tanks leak!) and all he was worried about was himself.

The next morning we found out just how close this clown would have been to winning the event when the results so far were published. It turned out that we were so far ahead of the pack that we would win the event if we finished. Put another way, we were further ahead than the total late time penalty. Bob asked if I wanted to drive the final stage but rules are rules (and I have a thing about driving other people's cars with which I'm not familiar), so we drove around in a conservative manner making no mistakes.

I wrote about the idiot's demonstration of his lack of sportsmanship in our club magazine. Copies of the magazine were sent to the committees of several clubs that we regularly competed with and against, and the complainer just happened to be on the committee of the club that had organised the rally in question. He became extremely upset about what I had said about him (without naming him) and wanted the club to lodge an official complaint with CAMS, stating that my comments about his poor sportsmanship constituted bringing the sport into disrepute. My view was that his behaviour was much more likely to do that and his fellow committee members agreed. We all had a good laugh when the complaint and decision were leaked from his committee to ours the next day.

I'm not a vindictive person, but at the trophy presentation night I couldn't resist including in my winner's speech the fact that not only was it nice to win, but we had done it without claiming the time spent assisting another competitor. The other driver was in the audience and I could feel his squirming from the stage.




Copyright © 2016- Peter Bowditch

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