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Legendary WRC co-driver, journalist and photographer, Martin Holmes, reaches another milestone as he becomes an octogenarian on April 25. Holmes has been RallySport Magazine's WRC correspondent for over 25 years, and during that time he has continually proven why he's one of the WRC's most respected journalists. In his 80 years he has attended over 500 rounds of the World Rally Championship (probably a record), and has released many books on rallying, as well as writing pre- and post-event reports on all events he has attended as a journalist. Also published today is a story Martin has written on his 'coming of age', which includes an incredible range of photographs from his life in the sport. Make sure you take a look at them.

RSM and Holmes

I recall the first time I saw Martin Holmes, at the 1989 Rally Australia, when the WRC circus first came to our shores. My dad, a long-time follower of the sport, pointed out the tall, eccentric Londoner at pre-event scrutineering, and I remember looking at him in awe. As the years progressed, I got to know him more and more, and when Australian Rallysport News (the precursor to RSM) eventually did a deal to publish his stories and photos, it was a key moment in our life as a publication. While only ever seeing Martin at rounds of the WRC in Australia or New Zealand over the years, we've swapped hundreds of faxes and emails, and have spent many, many evenings on the telephone discussing the WRC and what articles he had coming up next. Perhaps his standout trait is that he doesn't deal in rumours.
Many a time I've asked for a story on where the WRC's current star driver is going next, and if the rumours are true, but every time I was stonewalled with a comment like, "I only deal in the facts".
It was frustrating at times, but it not only retained his credibility, but also ensured that he was a journalist that drivers and teams trusted implicitly.

Ursula Partridge, Martin Holmes and Peter Whitten catch up in London in January 2020.

When my wife and I were in London in late January we were thrilled to finally get to visit Martin at his Woking home, and to browse through his office and his priceless archive of WRC memorabilia. If you haven't read my story on his photographic archive, do so. It's definitely worth a look.
Of course, as Martin himself says in his article about turning 80, time waits for no man, and in recent years he hasn't attended as many events as he would have liked.
Back surgery last year gave him months of limited mobility as he recovered, and more recently he's spent some weeks in hospital with another ailment that he's working hard to get on top of. But if the body is wavering, the mind remains pin sharp, and he has a memory like a steel trap. In any man's language, an 80th birthday is an incredible milestone, and I'm sure Martin will be overwhelmed with the messages of congratulations that come his way (despite the current lockdown in the UK). Happy birthday Martin, and here's to many more WRC adventures.

Martin Holmes visited New Zealand's Otago Rally in 2004. Photo: Jeff Whitten

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