A DIS­CI­PLINE TO BE RE­SPECTED

Autosport (UK) - - PERFORMANCE -

It’s of­ten said that rally drivers are a dif­fer­ent breed, and from my one ex­pe­ri­ence of ral­ly­ing in 1987, I’ll ad­mit that I fall very much into that camp. I did the Lake­land Stages in heavy fog, and as I changed from fourth to third over the brow of a hill, I was in­formed by my co-driver, Colin Wil­son, that his reg­u­lar part­ner would have gone from fourth to fifth there. The phrase stays in my mind – and it’s over 30 years ago!

The pro­file goes to the rac­ing drivers, but those in the know have a great ap­pre­ci­a­tion for ral­ly­ing, and if you look back far enough to Jim Clark do­ing the RAC Rally in the Cortina, or Gra­ham Hill on the Monte Carlo in a Ford Fal­con, they al­ways have done.

There was a time when the Monte Carlo Rally was as im­por­tant as the Indy

500, Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix. There were ma­jor block­buster films like Monte Carlo Or

Bust be­cause the event had real glam­our about it. Ral­ly­ing car­ried such a nat­u­ral affin­ity for everyone in rac­ing and, al­though it doesn’t have quite the same pro­file now, I think it’s still the same to­day with peo­ple I talk to that voice their in­ter­est in hav­ing a go. They have big re­spect for what rally drivers do and there’s a fas­ci­na­tion for it that comes with an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the dan­ger in­volved.

Robert Ku­bica went ral­ly­ing with the in­ten­tion of broad­en­ing his skillset, and found the ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing in such vastly change­able con­di­tions im­proved his con­fi­dence in a Formula 1 car. Car­los Sainz Jr will have grown up watch­ing his father com­pet­ing on ral­lies and has a stage near his house in Spain that he prac­tices on, but he will have only prop­erly un­der­stood it for him­self when he turned up to drive the course car on the Monte Carlo this year with­out do­ing a recce first.

As he dis­cov­ered, ral­ly­ing is a dra­matic ex­pe­ri­ence. There’s so much you have to take into con­sid­er­a­tion; the vi­o­lence of the car, the noise and the trees that brush you, the rocks com­ing up from the sur­face of the road. It’s a chal­leng­ing dis­ci­pline and def­i­nitely broad­ens your hori­zons as a driver.

Ku­bica was drawn to ral­ly­ing to im­prove his sen­si­tiv­ity to grip changes

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