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FOREST RALLIES, FASTER CARS & PACENOTES 

THE BIG WORLD OF RALLYING

"The first ever female World Rally Champion"​

If you’ve read my blog post ‘How to become a rally driver’, you’ll be aware that I come from a non-rallying background and I was introduced to Motorsport through a chance meeting in 2011 when I was just 15 years old.

Five years on and I have competed in various cars, championships and even countries and aiming to go bigger and better every year. Not only have I developed as a driver (I hope!) but I have also created a big goal over the years – to become the first ever female World Rally Champion. Why not dream (and achieve) big? However I didn’t begin rallying with this goal.

My huge ambition began when I entered into the world of “senior” rallying. Task number one was to pass my road driving test and I passed with no minors of course!

I have to admit, I had no idea what to do next in rallying. The Junior 1000 Championship was all I had known so I planned to stay in Juniors for another year but I was desperate to start rallying in the forests after only ever competing on tarmac. So one rare sunny day, we went to a forest in Wales in my newly-purchased 2.0 litre Ford Fiesta ST and it was SO COOL!

Rallying on gravel is like marmite. You either love it or you hate it… and I loved it!

Can we take a moment to laugh at how close I have to sit to the steering wheel… 5ft3 problems! A big thanks to Phil at Phil Price Rally School for welding the sump on the van this day… oops! Note: vans are not suitable recce vehicles!

There was a few “Oh that was close!” moments as I pushed on in car and my confidence grew. However, I had no fear! This was when my bravery began to play a major part in my rallying career and after two test days, I entered my first ever senior rally – the Nicky Grist Stages 2013.

This rally was apt as Nicky had kindly kitted me out with a race suit, helmet, race boots and intercom before my first ever rally in 2012. He also made me aware of my “weird-shaped head”!

It was my first ever rally on gravel, in the ST and also on pacenotes… so my main goal was to finish the event. It also turned out to be the hottest day of the year and at 30 degrees outside the car, you can imagine the heat inside! All hail roof vents!

On every stage I drove past car after car after car stranded at the side of the road and so I was ecstatic to get to the finish of the rally and a decent result was a bonus. I had done what I went there to do and learned more than ever!

I competed in as many forest events as possible alongside doing A-levels, which meant I also experienced the worst part of the sport – retiring. Sometimes due to driver error (AKA crashing… oops!) but mostly due to mechanical issues as weak ball joints and drive shafts were an issue on the ST. Unfortunately this is all a part of rallying and makes the great times even greater.

I was catching cars in stages and setting competitive times in my second forest rally. Nobody could believe the pace at which I was improving… literally! Sometimes you just have to be fearless and jump in at the deep-end. So if you want to start rallying, just start and you’ll never look back!

Although, be prepared if you are a girl... you will hear this a lot(!):

Want to get involved in rallying?
What is rallying? http://www.gomotorsport.net/Go-Info/Types-of-Motor-Sport/Rallying
Find an event and speak to everyone! http://www.itsmymotorsport.co.uk/

Join a car club! http://www.gomotorsport.net/Go-Find/Motor-Sport-Clubs // https://www.msauk.org/Clubs/Find-Clubs
Experience rallying! http://www.philprice.co.uk/
Get your licence! http://www.gomotorsport.net/Go-Do/Get-a-License/Get-a-Licence // http://www.rallyschools-bars.co.uk/licence.html
Choose a championship! http://www.itsmymotorsport.co.uk/rally-championships.htm
Buy/hire a car! http://www.rallycarsforsale.net/
Buy/hire racesuit/helmet/gloves/boots/HANS device! http://www.nickygrist.com/
Everything else you’ll learn along the way!

I’d like to say a special thanks to my co-driver at the time, Chris Davies, for helping me to make the leap from my little Nissan Micra rally car to my Fiesta ST.

Pacenotes - commonly used method of accurately describing a rallying route to be driven in extreme detail

Recce - When a driver and co-driver pre-run the competitive route at legal public speeds in a noncompetition car to create their pacenotes

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