Ever since we found out that the rally car we’re sponsoring has a female co-driver, we’ve been geeking out over motorsport at Clik Towers. It’s our new obsession.
We managed to grab a quick chat with John and Rhianon in-between rally prep and airport departure lounges as they prepare for next week’s race.
So tell us about next week’s rally
John: It’s the Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, the UK’s round of the World Rally Championship, up in North Wales.
When did you start racing? What got you interested in the sport?
John: I first got involved with Motorsport when I was about 15. A local enthusiast helped a group of us build a rally car from scratch, which I then competed in, firstly co-driving at 16, then driving at 17. Living on the Isle of Mull where there is a rally held every October, it’s been my dream and ambition to compete from about the age of 5!
Rhianon: I started rallying in 2005. My family is a rally family. My dad and two brothers are all drivers so I got the rally bug from them. I did my first rally with my brother Nathan and have done many rallies with my brother Brendan. They talked me into becoming a co-driver and I’ve never looked back
How do you get into motorsport, if you don’t have family connections?
John: First port of call is to join your local motor club where you will meet all the right people to give you help and advice, then save every penny you have!
What’s a typical day like for you?
Rhianon: I’m a professional co-driver. So, I’m usually at a rally competing, training someone how to rally or at home preparing for a rally. My life is rally. My husband is also a professional co-driver so this is our lives.
What qualities do you need to be a successful rally driver/co-driver? What makes you two a great team?
John: To be successful you obviously need to have the ability, but you also need to be prepared to work hard and give it 100%.
Rhianon: This will be John’s and my 5th event together and good communication and preparation are two of the most important elements for us to work well together. You must work hard together and trust each other. In the rally car, John and I are equally important so we both need to work hard to achieve the goals we want to achieve.
John contacted me last year and we competed in 4 rallies together in the Scottish Rally Championship, winning one of those rounds. The reason John and I could have this success is we work hard together as a team.
Winning takes more than just driving fast. Its homework before the rally watching stages from previous years, writing good pace notes and working as a team in the car. We both want to win and know this takes hard work.
We love how the car looks with the Clik branding. But tell me a bit more about your car?
Rhianon: The car is a Ford Fiesta R5, but John can tell you more.
John: It is a 300bhp, 4-wheel drive rally car with a sequential gearbox and launch control! It is fully stripped out, with a full safety roll cage and bucket seats, built by M-Sport in Cumbria.
This car takes corners at speeds you wouldn’t believe are possible and stops on its nose under braking.
Rhianon: It’s an amazing car and I can’t wait to race in it next week.
How do you prepare for races?
John: Prep is made up of watching onboards (that’s dashboard cams to you and me) from previous years, car testing and pace note practice.
Rhianon: We’ve been preparing for this rally for a long time. Over 2 months. For me, I need to do a lot of pre-event preparation. Reading rules and regulations, preparing service and fuel sheets, writing out pace notes which John has ready for the events, making up my road books. Its hours and hours of planning and preparation.
Rhianon – we think you’re a badass. Are females underrepresented in rally racing? We find they are in the tech industry but it’s improving.
Rhianon: I am one of only a hand full of professional full-time female co-drivers in the world.
It’s definitely a male’s world I play in. But for me, I don’t even think about my gender. It’s just about doing my job and doing it to the best I can. I love what I do and I work really hard to be the best that I can be.
What channel can we watch the racing on next week?
John: There are still tickets available to watch it live or I think there are highlights on BT Sport on Saturday morning (28 October 2017).