Ari Vatanen doesn’t do much co-driving. Never really has done. So, when he stepped out of the right-hand side of Petter Solberg’s Citroen Xsara WRC in Birmingham last week, it was quite a moment.
And the previous nine minutes had been quite a moment for the 1981 World Rally champion. There had been the obligatory donuts, big drifts, lots of speed and time spent on the happy stick and then, as the car was passing in front of the crowd, Ari was on his own in the Xsara. Petter was on the roof.
Not much surprises AV these days, but you get the feeling that did. Just a little bit.
“He is the showman,” he said when he climbed out. “Everything is for the people and he really connects with them, I love this. But, at the same time, behind all of this, he is so professional in the preparation and everything he does. Petter is working very hard at what he’s doing and he’s making a great example to the younger drivers.”
Listening to one hero talking so graciously about another one was a genuine privilege in Birmingham last week.