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HOW to BECoME A RALLY DRIVER

A CHANCE MEETING, TEARS AND FUN!

"YOU TOOK THE WRONG CHILD DAD!"

I’m often asked how I got involved in rallying and the truth is it was a chance meeting at Knockhill Motor Show in July 2011. My dad dragged me along against my will. I come from a non-rallying background so I had never really been interested in motorsport but my dad is an avid fan so I had grown up with the F1, Moto GP and, sometimes, rallying on the TV. He had even taken my older brother karting, hoping he’d be the next F1 champion, but he wasn’t interested. YOU TOOK THE WRONG CHILD, DAD!

At the Motor Show, I was given the opportunity to drive a car for the first time in a 10 Minute Teen Driving Lesson and, of course, I grabbed the chance with both hands! What fifteen year old would reject the opportunity to drive a car?! A car would have to suffice after years of asking my parents for a quad bike and their answer always being a stern “NO!”

I picked driving up really quickly… clutch control, gears, steering… it was easy! Little did I know that my driving was being watched by David Barlow (DigB) who was the coordinator of the Junior 1000 Ecosse Challenge – a rally championship for 14-17 year olds. “Are you interested in rallying?” he asked. I had no idea what rallying was but I’ve always been super competitive so, of course, I replied “YES!”
 

The instructors took me for a spin around the rally stage in a rally-prepped Subaru and that was it! I had an inkling of what rallying was and I knew that I HAD to do it! I could barely see over the steering wheel of a car or even reach the pedals but I think it added to the thrill.

Note: I let my dad drag me along to anything nowadays!

Deciding to start rallying was the easy part… actually starting rallying was certainly an adventure!
I begged my parents to drive me to rallies most weekends where we would spectate for hours. I was desperate to start rallying.

In the next eight months I completed my BARS test at Knockhill Race Circuit, made loads of rallying friends and with the help and support of DigB (and Dad of course), I bought my first car; a 1.0l Nissan Micra Junior rally car. After four hours of driving experience behind the wheel I competed in my first ever rally. Yes you heard right… four hours… some say we were naïve, others say we were brave. I’d say we were a bit of both!

On the 31st March 2012 I competed in the Charterhall Stages, my first ever rally and it was certainly an experience. I crashed a lot, cried a lot but more than anything I learned a lot. I learned never to give up and to always keep improving. 

This became evident as every rally I competed in I would move further up the leader-board and crashed a little less. The MSA approached me to join their Academy for elite drivers, Jimmy McRae named me as “the one to watch” on my second rally and most importantly I had so much fun!

It wasn’t easy to enter the world of motorsport. We didn’t know anybody but that was part of the fun! I had to compete in PCAs in my brother’s brand new Ford KA, we borrowed towing vehicles from friends, and we even drove three hours up to Knockhill and back in my rally car (the loudest car in the world!). I still used to fall asleep in it on the way home. My Dad was my only mechanic and we would stay up ridiculously late fixing my car at the weekends. Welcome to rallying! 4am starts and midnight finishes!

The next chapter began when I passed my driving test in 2013 and progressed into “senior” rallying. I chose a 2.0 litre Ford Fiesta ST with the help of my co-driver at the time. What an awesome car! Next chapter coming soon!
 

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 also like to take the time to say a special thank you to everyone who has helped me out during this crazy journey in rallying- friends, co-drivers, prep teams, mechanics, car clubs, event organisers, marshals, recover crews (oops!), businesses and sponsors. You know who you are and I can’t thank you enough.

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