The World Rally Championship is a rallying series which opens to everyone with a car to join in on the event. Unlike the F1, this significantly lowers the entry level and encourages enthusiasts to pursue rallying in any of the stages worldwide.
Here are 7 top tips from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team’s ace driver Jari-Matti Latvala to help you start your rallying career off on the right foot.
Join the local car club
Your local car club will consist of enthusiasts old and new with years of experience, skills and knowledge among them. They can help you understand the many different aspects and challenges you may face in your rally career before you even get started.
Be an apprentice of the sport
Most car clubs are stacked with people who work in the automotive industry. Find yourself a mentor to take you under their wing and guide you on the right path toward becoming a rally driver.
Enrol yourself at a rally school
Rally school teaches you important techniques that cannot be learnt anywhere else. Unlike conventional circuit racing, rally schools focus on basic rally-specific skills, such as dealing with terrain changes that are unlikely to happen on a racetrack.
Find a car that suits you
This is an especially important so take note. Your first rally car doesn’t need to be a top-of-the-line beast of a machine. Get yourself a car that suits you and make sure it’s not too fast. In the event of a roll, it’s better to experience it in a slow moving car and learning how to react before you upgrade.
In an interview, Jari-Matti mentioned that it’s better to learn how to drive a slower car to its full potential before upgrading because it helps you understand both your driving style and how cars react under various conditions.
Safety is the no.1 priority
Invest in the best safety gear you can afford. A good racing suit, a HANS device and the best crash helmet should top this list.
Drive every car possible for the experience
Be it front wheel-drive, rear wheel-drive, or four wheel-drive cars; drive them all. Get a feel of what you like and how different cars work under different circumstances and terrain changes. Understanding cars so you can resolve issues in the middle of a stage is part of rallying, so spend as much time as possible in the driver’s seat.
Start working in the industry
The rally business is a very small and tight-knit industry. Start working in the industry and look for jobs, be it as a mechanic or a tire guy. Former World Rally Champion Richard Burns started as a rally instructor while helping out as a mechanic and truck driver before landing himself the driver’s role. Start somewhere and remember that legacies aren’t achieved overnight.
These are the top tips from our top driver, so get out and start your career now. Who knows you might be tackling the same stages as Jari-Matti Latvala soon? See you on the WRC stages!
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