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