A Tribute To An Incredible Team
For the last ten years, the Stage One Technology team has passionately and diligently cared for every millisecond, and the critical safety systems helping to protect the competitors and spectators of the FIA World Rally Championship.
This ten year adventure has taken us around the world many times, meeting incredible people, experiencing new and interesting cultures and sampling a diverse array of foods. Our Ops Director, Kevin Chaffey often selects the first thing on the menu he can't pronounce. Not all of us are so brave, John Renny, our longest serving Stage Technician simply refuses to eat anything green!
It's been a roller-coaster of contrasts, great highs and huge lows, rain, snow, sweltering sun, -30 in Sweden, and +50 in Greece, ludicrously high budgets in the early days, followed by some horrendous lean periods where it was a struggle to find any way to keep going.
But one thing has remained constant throughout. The unwavering dependability of a truly extraordinary team of people. These guys have put up with periods of sharing rooms at the Flee-Pit-Inn, sometimes sleeping in the bath in order to escape the nuclear-strength snoring of their colleague. They've endured almost hypothermia levels of discomfort loyally refusing to let the team down and swap their leaking team-kit for an alternative waterproof coat. They've remained professional, decent and honorable, and have maintained loyalty to the very last millisecond of their responsibilities on the WRC, which occurred just a few minutes ago, as I write this.
It's easy to churn out a corporate thanks to people in these circumstances, but there is no way I could do justice in writing to the level of respect and pride I have towards our team. The World Rally Championship has been in such great hands for a decade, and we are all extremely proud to have been a part of it, and to have been honoured with the enormous responsibility accompanying the job.
I want to pay tribute to David Richards, and Apax, who had the original vision which evolved WRC ten years ago when they invested an enormous amount of money into stabilising, and standardising the timing and safety tracking for the WRC. It was as vital as it was expensive.
I want to thank the wonderful people we've worked with over the years, and for the overwhelming support we've received from every corner of the sport. In Rally Spain this weekend, every ten minute walk has turned into an hour, as person after wonderful person stopped me to express their disbelief, astonishment, but mostly their gratitude and praise for our brilliant people. Thank you so much to all of our colleagues for the last ten years - you know who you are.
But, as I'm sure you can tell, mostly I'm just so proud of every member of my team. We've done incredible things together. We've respected the enormity and challenge of what we've been asked to do, but have not made a big fuss about it - you've all just got on with the job, quietly and professionally. You've covered yourselves in glory this weekend, seemingly working even harder than you normally do in order to ensure that our last one was a really good one! And it was.
Ten years is a long time in motor sport. And its a very long time to hold a solid contract. We've stood the test of time for a reason: all of you. Over the years, I've always been able to rely on your support, and I've always known you wouldn't let me down. This made it far easier for me to secure ongoing support for our services, and I'm just so sorry I wasn't able to secure another extension.
But here we are, at the end of 10 years, and our WRC story comes to a close.
Every member of the team, including those who have worked with us over the years in the good times and the more challenging times, can all feel extremely proud. We've dramatically improved the safety of the WRC over the last ten years. We haven't missed a single time. We haven't delayed an event, or even a single time control in ten years. I'm not saying that nothing has ever gone wrong, but our obsessive focus on fail-safes, procedures and backups, supported by super-human hard work at times, has meant that we've always made sure the integrity of the sport remains intact, and nobody gets hurt.
Ten years. That's incredible. We can now hand the baton over and take a deep breath. The sleepless nights, the anal attention to every conceivable possible risk and potential problem. The quadruple-checking of every parameter, every local legality, every operational risk, every proposed regulation change, every last-minute request, every regional difference, unique organiser requirement, etc, etc. You've handled them all, you've dealt with them all, and you can finally breath a long sigh and let someone else worry about it all!
We wish our successor good luck for the future. They have huge shoes to fill, and for the sake of the WRC, the event organisers, teams, competitors and fans, we sincerely hope they take this responsibility as seriously as we have.
To the WRC, I thank you for a great experience, an enriching journey and some hard but valuable life-lessons. For some wonderful friendships, and some irreplaceable memories.
We now look towards the future, and are already in talks with some very interesting opportunities.
But to my team. I'm so incredibly proud of you all. Thank you for your support and trust, and for somehow making me look good for a decade. Congratulations and well done on a stunning job.
Now let's go and have a beer!