In Nick Rowland's latest exclusive column for Crash.net, the youngster looks back on last month's International Rally Isle Man, his first ever outing on the event...
Finally, after a few years of dreaming and watching others, I finally got a chance to do the Rally Isle of Man last month. I can easily say the rally was the toughest event I have ever done
I have always listened to people go on about how unpredictable the weather is on the island, but I never realised how bad it was until I was there.
The recce for the event went pretty smoothly and it was clear we had made some good steps with my notes since the Jim Clark. I had a handful of wrong notes on the Jim Clark and it made it hard to commit to them 100 per cent but this time around I can't remember any note being wrong.
On day one we had four stages and it was nice and sunny in service, so I went for slicks. Naturally a few miles down the road near the start of SS1 it began to rain. It was not so much of a problem for Marine 1 - or the two Balley Cashtal tests, but for the last stage on the higher ground it was not the right choice. By that time the fog had got worse too, as had the rain. Believe it or not this would be the first time I have ever driven a rally car on wet tarmac.
We managed to get through the stage but I was not that happy. I had a few moments through the stage and under-steered into a wall at one point, but the real problem was I struggled to detect when it was okay to push a bit harder and know what bits had better grip. Unfortunately another Suzuki driver, Gordon Nichol, had a fairly big crash on the stage and would not do any more stages.
At the start of day two we had our first run through Little London and it was wet, wet, wet. Thankfully I was on wet tyres and we had a good run. We lost a bit of time though when we caught the car in front on all of the three morning stages but it was not much of a problem. The second and third stages of the day were much drier and so after service I decided to go out on slicks.
Guess what? Just as we arrived at the next stage it began to rain - a lot. So we lost a bunch of time through the next loop but thankfully got through them okay.
By this point I thought I had learnt my lesson, so I went for wets at the next service as it had been wet all day. Naturally, on the next loop they were dry. I would love to say I have learnt a lot about tyre choice after the rally, but in reality I can't help but think it was a pure lottery for everyone.