STU­ART LOUDON

“Be­ing part of the crew was a thrill”

Motor Sport News - - Round -

Iwas in the mid­dle of a pretty nor­mal day at Tun­nock’s when my mo­bile rang. It was Matthew Wil­son. The Tea­cakes were look­ing good, so I an­swered.

“Dad and I have been talk­ing about bring­ing some­body back to the team to co­or­di­nate the weather crews on Tar­mac ral­lies, do you fancy it?”

I love bak­ing bis­cuits, but this is the sport where I am de­ter­mined to make it as a pro­fes­sional co-driver and the chance to work with four-time world cham­pi­ons in Julien [In­gras­sia], and Se­bastien [Ogier] wasn’t one I was go­ing to pass up.

I’ve worked with M-sport in the past, done some test­ing and co-driv­ing with Matthew, so I’ve got a good in­sight into what’s made them the best in the busi­ness. But this was the first time I had worked with them in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

When I saw the weather fore­cast be­fore the event, I re­alised I couldn’t have signed up on a more in­tense rally. The Monte’s al­ways tricky for call­ing the weather, but a week out, there was talk of snow com­ing and plum­met­ing tem­per­a­tures, which would mean try­ing to sec­ond-guess when those damp patches would turn to black ice. And, in the other way, when the ice would melt, al­low­ing the guys to whip off the win­ters and take the rac­ers.

I was sure I would find it dif­fi­cult to sleep in the nights be­fore the start. But I was con­cen­trat­ing so hard on mak­ing sure the weather crews were all go­ing to be placed in the right area and able to get the in­for­ma­tion back to me in the best pos­si­ble fash­ion, I was ab­so­lutely knack­ered when I got to my bed!

Once the event started, the buzz was in­cred­i­ble and the fo­cus amaz­ing – to see this from the in­ner sanc­tum of the com­mand cen­tre was an ab­so­lute priv­i­lege. It’s our sport at the ab­so­lute high­est level.

Ul­ti­mately, the first few days were pretty straight­for­ward for the weather: it was dry and cold, but that fi­nal day went a bit mad. Every­body was talk­ing snow, but at 0600hrs, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. But it came and we got it right.

There was real sat­is­fac­tion in join­ing the team and get­ting the job done. Julien was fan­tas­tic and re­ally help­ful – that set­tled my nerves. But the re­lief when the boys crossed the line was un­be­liev­able.

I was pretty chuffed when Mal­colm came over, gave me a big hug and said: “You can come again!”

So I am. I’m off to Swe­den and couldn’t be hap­pier.

But don’t worry, I’ll keep my eye in with the Tea­cakes!

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