My name is Bryan Hull and I’ve been involved in rallying since 1995, prior to that I had an interest in motor sport but only knew about rallying from magazines and the very occasional slot on TV sport shows. In the intervening years I’ve competed in nearly 200 events with 40 different drivers in numerous cars from Mini Coopers to Subaru WRC in many countries around the globe and have stories about crashing in Barbados to meeting a goat herder on a stage in Jordan.
How did you get involved in rallying?
I was spotted reading a copy of Autosport magazine by a colleague who asked if I was into motor sport and cars, the answer was obviously to the positive and he persuaded me to attend a rally. I was hooked from the start and immediately got involved with servicing and marshalling on events including the RAC Rally where I saw Colin McRae be crowned World Champion and fellow club member, and future World Champion, Richard Burns finish third.
What do you do in rallying?
Mainly I co-drive on events but I’m also a licensed Clerk of the Course and a have done most roles on a rally and enjoy putting something back into the sport.
I’m also Chairman of my motor club, Craven Motor Club, in Reading, Berkshire.
How many events do you compete in a year?
The number determined by my driver(s) and if we are chasing a championship, last year I think I only did three or four as I was without a driver and wasn’t looking to do much. This year I have already done four with three different drivers of three different nationalities (a Englishman, a Frenchman and a Kiwi who lives in the UK)
I also act as a Clerk of the Course on one event and marshal on a few events each year.
Do you ever spectate?
I’m not a great spectator as I can’t just watch a rally I need to be competing or helping out. At the time of writing I think I’ve only ever watched four rallys.
Do you like Maps, Safety Notes or Pace Notes?
Given the choice it would be proper pace notes written by the crew but there are not many events in the UK you can do this on so most events I compete on are with organisers safety notes, or descriptive route notes, that come from a single supplier and you don’t drive the route before hand but you may have watched a DVD of the stages made at the same time as the notes were prepared.
Map events in the UK are not as popular as they once were and I can’t remember the last event I did on maps (might have been 2005?), but there is a satisfaction in reading a stage well from a map but not sure I could go back full time to maps as life is so much easier on notes.
Who’s your favourite driver?
It used to be Juha Kankkunen who as a driver I always thought was the king of cool. Now I’m a big fan of Jari-Matti Latvala who I spent a few evenings driving the local lanes around where I live when he was over for driver training with Pentti Airikkala and Pentti needed a local co-driver to do pace note practice with.
Pentti said one day he’ll be world champion and I believe one day J-M L will have the consistency to do just that, he has the speed.
I’ve been lucky to sit in many cars over the years and enjoyed them all but the car I most want to sit in is a Metro 6R4, it’s a British rallying icon and make the best sound on the stages. I don’t want to call the notes though, well not at first, I want to experience the acceleration and noise.
I’ve now started a driver/co-driver matching service called RallyMatcher and the intention is to pair up drivers and co-drivers for one off events or championships, plus I want to carry on and co-drive for as long as I want to or drivers want me in the car.
What’s the most rewarding part of being involved in rally? The most challenging?
It’s the community spirit in the sport than brings multi-millionaires together with garage mechanics and labourers together with the common purpose of rallying in what you can afford to the best of your ability and that of your machinery.
The sheer cost of rallying is shocking and some people sacrifice/risk to much for the sheer thrill of rallying.
What kind of cash prize structure would entice you to enter more rallies or push the car harder?
Money? That would be great, give us a free entry and we’ll do more. There is no money in UK rallying it only goes one way and that’s out. If you were rallying for the rewards you’d not be rallying. You are rallying for the thrill, the challenge, the competition.
How important are car classes? What class/region do you race in?
How many competitors in your class at each event?
This year I’m competing in the up to 2ltr open class and I guess there are between 20 to 30 competitors in that class depending on the event in may different types and evolutions of cars. I’m currently in a Mk2 Escort with six speed sequential gearbox and 250bhp but I’ve been in the same class with much less powerful and developed cars.
The championship is the UK’s BTRDA (British Trials Rally Drivers Association) Championship that runs on rallys up and down England and Wales.
I’ve run in every class from those up to 1400cc to WRC cars and money and talent always wins when combined.
Spectators: Dream come true or worst nightmare? Why?
Rallys should be run for competitors as they are the ones paying the money but rally’s need spectators to sometimes help. I don’t buy into the fact that rallys need spectators to buy the products being advertised on the cars.
How do you get local gearheads involved in rally?
I don’t know, how do you?
What do you see is the most critical issue needing addressed by the rally community today?
How would you address that issue if you were in charge?
The UK is over populated and people move into areas that has traditionally had rallying and somehow they shut events down. If you move near an airport/race track/rally stage you shouldn’t have the right to complain. Your stupidity should be recognised by the authorities and you should be ignored.
If you could enter any WRC event, which rally would that be? Why?
Rally Australia or Finland as I prefer gravel and both these events are classics plus over the years I’ve done all the Rally GB stages so it would be just another rally.
Your favorite Group B car?
Ferrari GTO (you didn’t say it had to be a rally car!) If it’s a rally car then 205T16 or 6R4 as British classic (I even took photo’s of the two in the Las Vegas motor museum even though I see one on most British events)
Do you have a local rally club? Tell us about it!
I’m chairman of Craven Motor Club, the home club of the late World Champion Richard Burns. It’s based in Reading a large town (awaiting city status, we need more bars and drive by shootings to be a city!) 30 miles from London and not in traditional rally country but we have managed to have a world champion and have members competing up and down the UK and abroad.
How often do you get together with other rallyistas to talk shop?
I attend my motor club every week to talk rallying (and oil leaks in the Gulf of Mexico and building projects) and probably talk, email or text about rallying every day. It’s taken over my life in the last 15 plus years but I only talk about it to other rallyists and I don’t like boring those that don’t know rallying.
Tell us about some people who have made your rally dream a reality.
Biggest influence on my rallying life is my clubs president Peter Henness who took me under his wing when I first joined my club he’s made me who I am in the sport (someone has to be blame!)
My first driver was a guy I worked with called Darren Cooksey and he put me in a rallycar, the car was owned by a chap called Colin Minton who lent the car to Darren and also let me compete with him many times when I learnt my craft in his various cars.
Then there was a lady called Kim Bolsover who ran a website called rallycodriver who put drivers and co-drivers together and thanks to her I had lots of exciting rally drives up and down the country and abroad.
Thank a volunteer (or group of them) here.
I’m just going to thank organisors and marshals as without them there would be no events.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from your time in the rally community?
Enjoy what you are doing and be a nice person as it’s a small sport and friendly sport.
Thank you, Bryan, for letting Gearbox Magazine share your story with the world and for taking steps to connect drivers and co-drivers through Rally Matcher. Anyone wishing to learn more about Rally Matcher should contact Bryan directly via the website.