WHERE ARE THEY NOW: WAYNE BELL round of the championship. My friends and I screwed the thing back together, stuck it on a trailer and headed for SA. We lined up at the start of the first stage, never having driven the car, and away we went. It was pouring rain and Greg (Carr) was car one, we were second on the road. Greg’s lines were perfect, out wide, clip the apex then drift out wide again. On the other hand, I was all over the road. Wherever the wheels were pointing when you hit the throttle, that was where this bloody thing went! I was up the inside of corners, literally all over the road. The stage was some 16km long and when we got to the end Dave Boddy just looked at me and said: “That was bloody terrible”. I replied, “Yep, not so good, eh!”. As he was walking back from the control table he was shaking his head and laughing. He got in and said “guess what?” I just shrugged. “We were 16 seconds faster then Greg!” I said “You are f*+&$# kidding”. I did get the hang of it as the rally progressed, and we ended up winning by some margin, if I remember correctly. When mastered with left-foot braking and getting into how to drive these things, they were bloody quick. Completely different to anything I had ever driven. Moving forward, you were the first driver to bring Hyundai to rallying, and had a successful program in Australia, the Asia- Pacific region and in the World Championship. 42 | RALLYSPORT MAGAZINE - AUGUST 2016 Wayne Bell in his super fast Toyota Sprinter. What were the highlights during the formation and the running of this program? I guess bringing a brand new manufacturer into the sport, they were as keen as mustard, but had no idea what it was all about. The cars were fairly standard and were super strong. We competed in 24 events before we had a retirement, finished no worse then second in class. I do believe that it gave Hyundai Korea the impression that they could win the WRC, that this rallying was easy. Korea always made the decision to compete at the last moment. With Group N this was not such a problem, however, the move to Group A was something else. I could never make them understand that I needed approval and budget well in advance of the proposed competition date. “They were as keen as mustard, but had no idea what it was all about.” I had exactly three weeks to build two F2 Coupes for Rally New Zealand. Fortunately, I hade assumed they would approve the budget and went ahead and got the homologation and some parts designed and built. If they did not go ahead, I was financially up the creek big time. My car only did one stage and had no oil pressure, but Bob Nicoli managed to finish the event. Despite the time constraints we got the cars sorted and had some success in Asia with the Coupe. Highlights? Well, the Hong Kong Beijing Rally was unbelievable, and winning our class in that was fantastic. A feature story in an old Chequered Flag magazine. Also, when Greg Carr drove our second car in Rally Australia and the cars finished first and second in class. Being treated like a king in Korea was amazing. I went into a shop to buy some Nike shoes, as they were super cheap in Korea, and the little guy in the store just stopped in his tracks. “Mr Wayne Bell,” he mumbled. “Please, please sit down.” My wife just looked at me and made some smart comment! Even to this day I have Facebook friends in Korea. Yes, they were the good days for sure. Hyundai are a great company and I have some life long friends in Korea. Your fourth place in Formula 2 in Portugal must have been the one of the best moments in your career?
The highlight of that event was at the start when Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen, Colin McRae and several of the top drivers came over to me and said: “Welcome to Europe, Wayne, you should have been here years ago”. I will never forget that moment. As for the event, it could have gone better. Whilst the car I drove was actually one I had built here in Australia, the Poms had had it all apart and it was never the same. It was over-fuelling to buggery and was way down on power. We finished fourth in F2 against some very good competition, so I was pleased with that. Just to compete in Portugal was a fantastic experience. The crowds and the famous jump were incredible. Mr G.H Choi (current President of Hyundai Motor Sport) came over and said, “Thanks Wayne, you saved our arse again”. You retired in 2001, but have made the occasional appearance in rallying since then. What draws you back to the sport and keeps your interest? Yes, I had a couple of guest drives for fun and enjoyed that. I think I am pretty much over it now as I know I can’t drive like I used to, and it’s too expensive these days even to just go out and have some fun. I was very temped to ask G.H. Choi for a steer of the WRC i20, just to see how I would go. But with commonsense, and to save myself some serious embarrassment, I decided not to. Hyundai’s participation has rekindled my passion and I watch closely what is going on in the team and how the drivers and cars are going. Who were the drivers your respected most throughout your career and who were the hardest to beat? Do you want a long list?? There were many of them. I would have to say Greg Carr in Canberra was unbeatable. I did manage to beat him once, but that is all. Let me see, there’s Greg Carr, George Fury, Colin Bond, Geoff Portman, Hugh Bell, Ed Ordynski, Ross Dunko, just to name a few. What do you think of the current state of rallying on a world scale, and in Australia? The WRC has heaps of potential. When Toyota come back it will be very interesting. There is also a potential for other manufacturers to compete. At the moment there is not enough depth in the field at the top end. In the ARC, I have been watching the progress of Harry (Bates) and Molly (Taylor), and it’s great to see Simon (Evans) back - he is very talented. “I know I can’t drive like I used to ... and to save myself some major embarrassment, I decided not to.” I reckon the R5 class could be the way to go in Australia. It’s still not cheap, but it’s a level playing field with potential for manufacturer involvement The ARC lacks depth at the moment. I would like to see the more open NZ regulations, however, modern cars still need to win the championship if the sport is to regain its heyday. Sure, there can be a classic class with their own championship or whatever, however for an importer or manufacturer to be interested it has to be modern cars. That is why I like the Top: Bell and Dave Boddy in their Mazda 323 in an Alpine Rally, and (above) looking a little worse for wear with navigator George Shepheard. R5 regulations. How does Wayne Bell fill in his days now? Still working for the Government, involved in the automotive services section for Fair Trading. I’m doing some outback travel with the Land Cruiser and camper trailer. Catching up with old friends, pestering people on Facebook and just generally taking it easy. I am 64 and rising. It seems like only yesterday when I took the first MHDT Gemini home and NBN 3 (local TV station) were there waiting to interview me as the local kid made good. Also, there was the local neighbour who used to always complain to my parents about my driving. Mate, I couldn’t help it if he lived on a gravel street with a square left uphill. Even he was pleased for me! AUGUST 2016 - RALLYSPORT MAGAZINE | 43