Pure Rally’s Five-Star Irish run
I was always firmly under the impression that organised road rallies were the preserve of the rich, famous or sponsored, but this misconception was thankfully challenged by the discovery of Pure Rally.
I was invited to their first ever Irish run last week and was blown away by the cars, people, events, luxury and fun.
In the months before the rally I spoke to the organiser Mel Oliver, who told me that he had noticed a gap in the road rally market for people who don’t have bottomless pockets.
“I started it back in 2013 because all the other rally companies are ridiculously priced, especially Gumball which is €50,000,” said Mel, “they’re there for the one per cent whereas we're here for the 99 per cent.”
The event began on a sunny Friday morning inside the walls of Cork Gaol as teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK frantically fettled with their cars before takeoff.
There was a wealth of interesting and unusual motors; some were built in sheds, some were imported from Japan and for some the 400km trip would prove too much.
There were Subarus, Evos, Integras, BMWs and Jaguars, a Lancia Delta, a Nissan GTR, a turbocharged Fiat Cinquecento and many more weird and wonderful cars.
The banter that had begun the night before the rally was still in full swing as 100 petrol heads in fancy dress strapped themselves in for the first leg of the event.
The unusual assemblage of automobiles headed off towards Galway city through intense west coast rainfall and sporadic bursts of blistering sunshine, getting the full Irish summer experience.
Being passed by such a range of brilliant cars was desperately distracting as every one of these motors would turn your head on a normal day.
Once in the ‘City of the Tribes’ the teams got their hands dirty with a spot of go-karting before heading back to the Galway’s lavish Connacht Hotel.
The Pure Rally guys like to hammer home the five star experience aspect of the tour and I can see why as every nightclub and hotel we entered welcomed us with opened arms and top notch perks.
A night of partying led to some sore heads for the second leg, which brought the troupe to the Hodson Bay hotel in Roscommon for a BBQ.
Fed, watered, rejuvenated and revived, the orchestra of engine notes tore out of the Midlands towards the last leg of the Rally.
On the big roads, and in convoy, you could really enjoy the visual and audatory feast that so many of these cars provided.
22-year-old David from Leixlip had taken part in the Cannonball rally previously, which costs €2,250, and was blown away by Pure Rally’s value.
“I had very low expectations, but it turned out to be serious craic,” he said.
“For €300 you cannot get better bang for your buck, you get a whole weekend out of what you could spend in town on one night.
“Cars, women, drink, what more do you want really?”
There is an unspoken comradery at motoring events which was truly evident last weekend.
When cars broke down there were instant offers of help, whip rounds and family members with tow trucks.
One of the teams even won entry to next year’s rally for helping out by dragging broken BMWs in his Ford van.
The Pure Rally team were on hand at every point to assist, while also covering the event in stills and video.
It was Colm (31) from Cork’s first ever road rally: “I thought the rally was brilliant craic and I’ll be heading down again next year,” he said.
“For €300 it’s affordable and it’s a weekend away for the boys to just talk petrol.”
The five star business really came to a head when the rally arrived at Dublin’s DoubleTree Hilton in Ballsbridge, where drivers were given a warmed cookie before being ushered off to one of the hotel’s sprawling, stunning bedrooms.
There were a few drinks in the bar before a prize giving ceremony, where a free ticket to the Pure Rally Marbella run was given to the fastest go-carter.
Trophies, hats and other gear were laid up for the oil soaked competitors of Ireland’s first rally event for the 99 per cent.
After the prize giving I managed to grab Mel Oliver for his thoughts on Pure Rally’s Irish run:
“Pure Rally as a brand knows where our markets are, we had such a large following in Ireland it was stupid not to come here for an event.
“My big surprise was that the competition didn’t stop us from coming here, we sold out our first event in six-weeks, that the fastest we’ve ever sold out a rally
“We’re actually now going to do two events in Ireland from next year, the first one is already on sale and we’re going to add a race track to it.
When quizzed about the Irish rally compared to others throughout Europe, the UK and the US he said:
“What I love about the Irish crowd, you build it, you don’t just buy it.
“The Irish have Pure Rally in their blood, the feedback, the banter, it’s all been fantastic
“People who have done other rallies in Ireland have come up to me to tell me that Pure Rally is better.
Other rallies only allow certain cars compete, which makes the experience inaccessible for so many petrol heads.
This was, apparently, a bit of a bug bear for Mel who said:
“Pure Rally doesn’t discriminate, it’s about meeting likeminded people who enjoy cars and enjoy having a laugh, and it’s about bringing everybody together to create a community.
“I just want to get the message across that you don’t have to spend 50k for Gumball, you don’t have to spend over a grand per person for Cannonball it’s about enjoying cars, enjoying life and being happy and being with likeminded people
“If you want to go out and spend 50k then do it, be obnoxious sit there and do that
“You’re not the person I want on my rally, I want normal people who love cars, love to party, I don’t care if you have a supercar, I don’t care if you’re a white van man, you just have to be a party lover and I will give you the five star experience you’re being robbed for by the other overpriced rally companies, who offer the same 5 star experience for thousands more.
After the prizes were handed out the madness began in the capital for those with the energy to keep it lit.
First it was to Dawson Street’s 37 bar for the match before heading off to Dublin’s famous Lillies Bordello where tables circling the round bar had been booked out for the rally.
For a weekend full of fun, fast cars and brilliant parties I simply couldn’t recommend the Pure Rally Ireland run any more.
Morgan Flanagan Creagh