We in America are not particularly familiar with tarmac rallies—traditional rallies run flat out on closed public roads—but in Europe they are some of the toughest (and most dangerous) races you can find. The very toughest is the legendary Druidale stage, and here’s why it keeps this reputation.
(Skip ahead to ten minutes into the video for the Druidale part, but it’s all good.)
Druidale is on the Isle of Man, the little rock in the Irish Sea with no speed limits outside of its towns, host to the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races, the most dangerous major racing event on the planet. The perspective over there of what is too dangerous for people to do is different than it is here in America, to say the least.
Druidale is part of the Manx Rally, a short little stretch of narrow road that doesn’t look all-too different from any other winding road that cuts across the island’s countryside.
But compared to any other normal section of road, Druidale is faster, Druidale is bumpier, and Druidale presents more of a challenge.
It has been two years since I sat beside Mark Higgins testing the then-new NR4 spec Subaru STI rally car and I still remember how incredibly savage the stage was. For most of the run, the car never has all four wheels on the ground. It has to be stiff enough to handle the rest of the Manx Rally’s other sections, which naturally compromise the car on its crushing drops. There are a handful of spots where the road simply falls out from under the tires.
Higgins, a World Rally Championship veteran, called it the “hardest stage in the world.”
Subaru flew me and a number of other journalists out to the Isle of Man back in the summer of ‘15, and friend of Jalopnik Ryan Symancek was there, shooting video for an episode of My Life As A Rallyist that he just posted.
Watch the full thing above and take in the whole Manx culture that allows this to happen, and to hear that Subaru scratch and crunch its way through Druidale.