Carparison's Andy in a rally car
Charlotte Birchall

Charlotte Birchall

Charlotte is a marketing specialist and a writing genius. She has a distinct and hilarious way with words and a fine eye for the best topics to cover. In Charlotte's hands we know you'll be both entertained and informed.

As one of the UK's fastest growing online car leasing brokers, it's fair to say that Team Carparison loves all things automotive...but have you ever wondered what makes us tick when we aren't busy sourcing the best offers around?

Anyone who's spent any time talking with our team will know that we're a vibrant, friendly bunch who genuinely know a thing or two about vehicle leasing. 

Here at Carparison HQ, we're very proud of our professional achievements but we're also pretty proud of the amazing sense of camaraderie we have. We truly are a work family, with a mixture of characters and some pretty diverse interests - although there is most definitely a common theme of food appreciation!

We like to think we have a pretty great rapport with our customers but we'd really like you to get to know the 'team behind the screen' - so, we thought we'd share a bit of an insight into what some of our brilliant gang get up to when they hang up their leasing hats and head home for the weekend. 

 There are plenty of interesting activities - and characters - to choose from but one team member has such an unusual hobby we just had to kick off with him.

Read on to find out more...

Rally car


First up is Transaction Manager Andy, who along with Char, heads up our team of Leasing Consultants. Day to day, Andy is responsible for ensuring that anyone wishing to lease from us has a tip-top experience and has all the information they need to choose the perfect lease vehicle. But as soon as Friday comes around, it's a different story for Andy, who has one of the more adrenaline-fueled hobbies of the bunch.


Sticking with his automotive roots, Andy likes to spend his time behind the wheel in a different capacity - namely, Special Stage Rallying. 

For those not in the know, Special Stage Rallying is a sport in which drivers take to a pre-determined course that is made up of both 'normal' roads and special sections of closed road. Teams attempt to complete that section in the shortest amount of time. A rally can be made up of 15-30 stages and the driver with the lowest overall time for all of the stages is crowned the winner.


Andy is a member of a local club and he and his teammates compete in a number of events across the South West. The stages take place anywhere across the region at venues such as closed public roads and RAF bases so the terrain is varied and challenging.

TSH rally race

The team who fuel the dream

Far from being a solo pursuit, Special Stage Rallying is most definitely a team effort. Each driver has a co-driver, who is responsible for navigating the intricacies of the course, usually from a set of pace notes. These notes let the team know what lies ahead, where to turn, the severity of the bend, and any obstacles in the course, amongst other things.

Andy currently enjoys rallying alongside fellow enthusiasts Shaune - who competes for victory in a Talbot Sunbeam; Ben - behind the wheel of an Ex Works Proton Satria Neo S2000; and Russell - in an Astra Mk3 F2. Whilst there's no question they are a dream team, Andy admits to harbouring secret hopes that he may have different teammates in the future - in the form of his two young sons! 

Special stage rally driving

Why Special Stage Rallying?

Admittedly, it sounds like a fascinating sport but perhaps not one of the more obvious extra-curricular activities to get into - so how did Andy discover the need for speed?

" My uncle used to co-drive and I went to my first rally when I was 6" he explains. At that tender age, he was hooked and eventually got involved with the marshalling and organisation side of events. 

When a friend bought a car years later and invited Andy to team up, he jumped at the chance. He's now been competing since 2007 and has almost fifty events under his (seat) belt.

When asked what has kept him going back all these years, it's pretty simple: "The buzz of going flat out" - is easy for any fellow adrenaline junkies to fathom. However, Andy also cites the welcoming atmosphere, teamwork, and the social element as bonuses too.

Making us proud- achievements and beyond

Granted, fifty races is an impressive count but are there any that really stand out?

In terms of the competition, Andy says finishing 4th on the TSH Stages in 2019 was a special moment. Similarly travelling to Belgium to compete in the Rally Monteberg holds some great memories for him.

In more recent years, events have been understandably few and far between but Andy was lucky enough to attend the Revival Rally in Wrexham last month and thoroughly enjoyed it. 

2022 should hopefully see a more consistent return to rallying for Andy and he's definitely looking forward to getting back out in the Astra F2 as the year unfolds. As for future aspirations he would be happy with "just fun and the odd trophy along the way!"

Rally driving on a city street

The nitty-gritty: what does a typical race day look like?

Unsurprisingly, no two races are the same in Special Stage Rallying but it's certainly not as simple as putting the pedal to the metal and hoping for the best.

As races generally take place over a weekend, the first step in Andy's race itinerary is to liaise with his teammates. he says:

"Depending on the size of the event, I would usually meet the driver before to get the paperwork ready". This includes maps, pace notes, event passes, and accommodation bookings, to ensure that they can focus on the driving element on race day.

Once they're behind the wheel (or in the passenger seat in the case of co-drivers) the competitors' main aim is to get around the route in the best possible time.

Sounds easy, right? But don't be fooled, it's not as simple as navigating deserted roads. In all rallies, in addition to the special stages, drivers have to tackle the challenge of non-competitive road sections. Here the law of the land applies and they are required to abide by normal driving rules and speed limits.

The final lap

With the mixture of special and normal (or transport) road stages, keeping tabs on each vehicle's timing must get quite complicated, surely? 

Andy explains that typically, each car will be given a specific start time for a stage, set at four-minute intervals. A driver will wait, stationary at the start point until the designated time. Part of the co-driver's role is to provide a ten-second countdown, which along with the race official's hand signals, ensure the driver has a punctual pull away.

At the end of the stage there are two markers. The first - known as the 'Flying Finish' is the point at which timing for the race ceases. It gets its name from the fact that the car will be travelling at full race speed as it passes. 

Several hundred metres further along, is the stop control point, where a car must come to a halt for officials to record times and check paperwork. Approximately 50 metres after the stop control point, special stage restrictions come to an end.

During transport stages, drivers are required to follow the law and are often given specific times to arrive at their endpoint. This ensures that they don't gain an advantage (or break the law!) by speeding.

If all that talk of fast cars has left you almost able to smell the burning rubber, why not give Special Stage Rallying a try?

When asked what advice he would give to anyone hoping to get involved in the sport Andy said:

Do some research and find out where your local motor club is and get involved in any way you can. When you feel ready for an event, I'd recommend having a go at some grassroots ones first to get a feel for the sport.