Just a week on from passing his BARS exam, the first step to an International co-drivers licence, Evening Standard
sports journalist David Smith will start his uphill climb to compete at WRC standard when he accompanies Tony Jardine in the Castrol/Evening Standard team's ProSpeed run Ford Fiesta the Trackrod Rally.
Smith has been writing for The Evening Standard
for 22 years and is the latest journalist to accept Jardine's task of gaining their international navigators licence. He was at Silverstone Circuit just last week having his first experience of driving a rally car and learning skills necessary to compete at WRC level. He will now be expected to make the big step to becoming a fully competent co-driver for Jardine as they both tackle the Trackrod event.
The experienced writer will have some knowledge behind him coming into the event as he has competed in a road rally previously. Smith was co-driver to the legendary late Roger Clark on the 1989 Autoglass Tour of Britain that embraced rallying and racing.
Due to the fact that Smith's last motor sport involvement was such a different event 19 years ago, Jardine has arranged a training day with Nicky Grist as he will now need a complete days management and timing training to be combined with the skill to read the adapted pace notes.
“David is facing quite a tall order to qualify in a short space of time,” Jardine said. “By the time he arrives in Yorkshire he will have been put through his navigational paces by former World Rally Championship co-driver Nicky Grist who partnered Colin McRae for many years, so I hope he is able to take it all in as he will only have a few hours before he has to put it all into practice.”
Smith himself admitted he had mixed feelings going into the event.
"I'm looking forward to the rally with both excitement and trepidation,” he said. “My major concern is letting Tony and the team down through my lack of experience. I know from my one previous event 19 years ago that it is easy to incur penalties for basic errors like checking in too early. As for giving Tony a wrong call while speeding through a forest, the consequences don't bear thinking about, but the day Tony and I spent at Silverstone Circuit's excellent Rally Experience course has whetted my appetite for the sport and I can't wait for the action to start.
“The first priority will be forming a bond with Tony so that he can trust my co-driving as much as I trust him behind the steering wheel. The aim is to form a competitive team. I'm not going along just for the ride. I want to be a winner."