F1 correspondent Byron Young and broadcaster Tony Jardine joined forces for the first time to finish fourth in class and 61st overall on the Woodpecker Rally as they started out on their journey towards competing on the opening round of the 2011 IRC season.
The pair plan to contest the Monte Carlo Rally next season and the outing on the Woodpecker Rally marked Young's first time in the co-driver seat as he called notes for Jardine in the pair's ProSpeed Ford Fiesta.
The outing gave Young the first of four signatures that he will need in order to take part in the Monte Carlo classic.
“Tony did really well, especially on the second stage when I called a hairpin right when it was actually a hairpin left,” Young said. “It was gated, he spotted the mistake and got it right, but if he had got it wrong or dithered in the slightest we could have hit anything and been off.
“It's such an experience when you're flying through the air, the car is half sideways and you're in a top gear! We went through one forest area where two cars had gone over the edge, they were lying in a wreck, with another competitor pulled over on the side. It was carnage but we made it to the end which was our main target!”
Jardine and Young were third in class N3 after the fourth stage, but arrived at the start of the fifth stage too early and earned an unfortunate time penalty.
“We were victim to one of the hundreds of little details that goes into competing in a rally but that was the purpose of this event – to iron out the kinks,” Young said. “I wouldn't be any kind of a competitor if I didn't want to win our class but for my first rally I'm just delighted we got to the finish. I've definitely got a new respect for rally drivers. That was a visceral experience, when do we go again?”
Jardine was quick to praise his new co-driver, who becomes the latest member of the media to take on the challenge of sitting alongside him on the rally stages.
“Honestly this event has been an amazing start for Byron, and great training for him,” he said. “The conditions were dry and there was a lot of dust, and big rocks. Cars were rolling down ravines, and there were some major wrecks – absolute right offs. There were also numerous punctures suffered by other competitors on the stages, but we managed to avoid that. It was truly an unforgiving rally, but Byron really got stuck in and did a great job.
“It was unfortunate to get a time penalty on the fifth stage, but learning how to calculate your check-in times for time control is all part of a co-drivers training.”
With Young set to report on the final six rounds of the current F1 season, the pair face a race against time to ensure that he collects the signatures required to contest the IRC event, which will run from 19-23 January.