sports journalist David Smith started his challenge of becoming a World Championship Rally co-driver in the Trackrod Rally by swapping his perch in the press box for a seat in the heart of the action.
Smith not only got his first real taste of the competitive sport, but also claimed a terrific victory by coming
first in class alongside experienced driver Tony Jardine through the six ultra-fast, dusty forest stages.
He was in the navigator's seat of the Castrol / Evening Standard Ford Fiesta ST150 supported by York based ProSpeed Motorsport. Despite this being Jardine's second time competing at the Trackrod Rally, it was journalist Smith's first competitive Rally.
In preparation he got some useful coaching and tips from renowned World Rally Championship co-driver Nicky Grist. With this information and a last minute coaching session from ProSpeed MD Olly Marshall, Smith took to the rally like a natural.
“That was the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “It is one thing watching sport from the press box, usually the best seat in the house, but it is quite another strapped tight into a racing seat while Tony drives at breakneck speeds literally inches away from stout tree trunks My one major mistake was sending Tony into a tight right bend at close on 100mph. Only his tremendous skill, and a rare slice of luck, prevented an accident. It was a sobering moment for me.
“I always held rally drivers in high esteem, but after the Trackrod Rally I am now totally in awe of them and the engineers who work wonders preparing the cars against the clock in the most testing of conditions.”