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Navigating... Sure, how hard can it be?
Colin, who I co-owned the Juno with, I've known for many, many years. During all that time he's always rallied. He had a brief stint driving probably 20 years ago, but mostly he's been doing it from the passenger seat. Then he and his brother in law bought an old Evo 5 rally car with the idea of doing a couple of rallies each in it. I got a call a few weeks before his first at Epynt asking if I'd be up for navigating for him (his guy had dropped out leaving him stuck). I jokingly replied "how hard can it be?". A few weeks later after hurridly buying a helmut and getting a license I was about to find out...
First things first, I am not insane. I know Colin's driving and I regard it very highly. Indeed I'm not sure there are any other people who I'd sit alongside driving this quickly and not be just terrified. Also at Epynt, he had an idea of where he was going, so my two days of learning how to do pace notes didn't matter as much as it would normally. Still by stage 8, I'd almost got my eye in and it started to flow. It's such a good feeling. So much so I can honestly say that it's one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things I'd ever done. As such, I said, if you fancy doing this again, I'll be up for it.
Manx National Rally
On Colin's bucket list was to drive the Manx. He asked if I'd be up for navigating again, but this time I'd have to actually tell him where he was going. Bit more pressure on me this time! As such we did a LOT of recce and prep this time. Two days solid to the point that at the end of the second day, I was confident nothing more was going in, and I was as useful as I ever was going to be this time.
Lamp pod for the night stages. Yes I was nervous...
Intense is the best way I can describe it. Pure adrenaline and a very sore throat (I think I was mainlining throat lozenges by this point). But absolutely and totally awesome. We didn't do bad either, considering it was Colin's second time behind the wheel in many years and my second time ever navigating, also we're in a class with some very special machinery and crews with a lot more experience. We were seeded 93rd, Colin said realistically he'd be happy with anything sub-40. We finished 31, which we were chuffed to bits with. Especially as one of the stages was pulled as we were on our 10 second countdown, and the notional time they gave us we reckon was about a minute off our pace. So in theory, we'd have been in the 20's! But that's the way the cookie crumbles and we'll take 31.
I also must give massive props to Bill, Shaun, Plod and Shamus (our service crew). What these guys can do in 15 minutes to keep you going is nothing short of legendary.
We made it, car (mostly) intact. Sanity, not so much.
A couple of vids.
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