My First Rally
After passing my BARS test in February, I competed in the Donington Rally run by Dukeries Motor Club on the 3rd March – my first ever rally! Not only was I the first ever female with a spinal cord injury to compete in a rally, but I was also the first car to be entered into the new GT class for rallying. This was a fairly late decision as I had intended to compete in the Spinal Track Toyota GT86, but when the GT class was announced, I knew I had to do this in my Cayman! A frantic phone call to EMC Motorsport to ask if they could turn my race car into a rally car in just under three weeks was made minutes before I was about to board a plane to Daytona. The answer was ‘yes’ and it then became a race against the clock to turn my Porsche racing car into a Cat 3, GT spec rally Cayman.
My mechanics had never built a rally car before so we were grateful for the guidance from Motorsport UK about what needed to be done to make my Cayman ready to have it’s Cat 3 log book done. It’s surprising how adaptable race cars are for prepping them for a tarmac rally. Terry Cox, one of the most experienced scrutineers in the UK was the man for the job when it came to the official log book. Having worked with Terry since the beginning of my racing career with Terry being the regular Porsche Club Championship Scrutineer, I knew he was the only man for the job. Not only was my Cayman the first GT car to get it’s Cat 3 log book, it was also the first competition car to have adaptations due to disability listed in the Vehicle Passport.
It was a brave choice when it came to choosing my co-driver for the event. My partner who is a rally instructor and examiner offered to navigate for me, which you may think was an obvious choice, unless you’ve ever been in a car when I’m taking direction from Andrew! However, despite our often ‘shouty’ relationship in a race car together, we actually got on really well. There are a few drivers and co-drivers in the BWRDC and the saying goes that couples who rally together, stay together! The rally was really wet and I was very grateful for Andrew’s navigation, his experience as a driver really helped me on my first ever event. Craners backwards is completely blind and you just have to trust that you know where the track goes having driven it hundreds of times forwards during races. I definitely think that more rally novices should use drivers as their co-drivers/coaches for first events as that kind of experience was invaluable for me.
Rallying is completely different to racing but I absolutely loved every minute of it. I’ve since done my second rally event at Cadwell which was a much more technical and narrow circuit, but I loved it even more! The stress and build up of hype around racing simply doesn’t exist on a rally. The focus is constant as you never have any downtime during a rally but the adrenaline peaks of qualifying, being on the grid and taking the chequered flag simply aren’t there. For me, it’s still massively exciting but it’s a different kind of buzz to racing. You’ll definitely be seeing me at more rally events this year thanks to the ongoing support of STANLEY. But for now, having just turned my Cayman back into a racing car, I’ve got my first race of the season to look forward to. I’m racing at Silverstone this Sunday and cannot wait to feel those nerves and excitement that I feel when lining up on the grid. If you’re at the CSCC race this weekend, come and say hi.
Photos by Jakob Ebrey