“I learned a lot from sit­ting in the driv­ers’ seat...”

Motor Sport News - - Rally Australia - RICHARD MIL­LENER

The con­trast be­tween the last two rounds of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship couldn’t have been greater for me. Last week I was act­ing team prin­ci­pal in Aus­tralia – Mal­colm [Wil­son, team prin­ci­pal] had stayed in the UK work­ing on our plans for 2017 – but three weeks be­fore that I was see­ing my home round of the WRC from a very dif­fer­ent po­si­tion.

I was in the co-driver’s seat of a Ford Fi­esta R2.

My jour­ney to that co-driver’s seat and Wales Rally GB started when [for­mer Red Bull TV re­porter] Mike Chen came to see me and said: “I’ve got a plan…”

It was a sim­ple plan, in­volv­ing me get­ting Mal­colm to loan him a Ford Fi­esta R2T, me agree­ing to co-drive and Mal­colm agree­ing to let me do the event while do­ing my day job at the same time.

Good job Oc­to­ber was a quiet month. A quiet month with only the three rounds of the world cham­pi­onship in! Thank­fully, Mal­colm saw the pro­mo­tional value of us do­ing the event and mak­ing a pro­gramme for Red Bull TV.

In no time, we were on the start line of My­herin. And, as the fog came down, lim­it­ing vi­sion to – just about – the end of the bon­net, Mike men­tioned he’d never done a rally be­fore! I have worked on ev­ery round of the world cham­pi­onship for the last five years, but the re­al­ity of get­ting to the end of Rally GB dawned on both of us pretty quickly.

It was huge. And we were only do­ing the Na­tional event. Get­ting through the first stage was like win­ning the whole rally. Our only drama was a punc­ture in Hafren, which we stopped to change. In case you’re won­der­ing, we didn’t trou­ble Se­bastien Loeb’s cham­pi­onship best of 90 sec­onds!

It’s only now, sit­ting in the ser­vice park in Coffs Har­bour that I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate how much I en­joyed and learned from the ex­pe­ri­ence. A mod­ern day WRC round doesn’t re­ally take us away from the ser­vice park too of­ten, so the chance to get out and drive the en­tire route in Wales was fan­tas­tic. And it re­minded me, once again, what a fan­tas­tic sport we have here.

See­ing so many sup­port­ers in the for­est was in­cred­i­ble, but the crowds on the road sec­tions were ac­tu­ally quite hum­bling.

The WRC re­ally is some­thing very, very spe­cial and thanks to Mike’s plan, I got the chance to re­mind my­self why.

Much as I would have liked to have been co-driv­ing in Coffs Har­bour last week, I was very glad to be back work­ing for the best team in the best sport in the world.

Keep an eye on Red Bull TV for the pro­gramme in the new year.

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