WORLD RALLY CHAMPION MAKES HIS FORMULA ONE DEBUT Colin McRae swaps seats for a day with B&H Jordan Fl star Martin Brundle. World Rally Champion Colin McRae has been given a birthday present which money couldn't buy. The Scotsman ...
WORLD RALLY CHAMPION MAKES HIS FORMULA ONE DEBUT Colin McRae swaps seats for a day with B&H Jordan Fl star Martin Brundle.
World Rally Champion Colin McRae has been given a birthday present which money couldn't buy. The Scotsman fulfilled a life-long ambition on Monday 5th August - his 28th birthday - when he made his debut at the wheel of a Formula One car. McRae was given the opportunity to try the 200mph car for size by the Benson and Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot team whose regular driver, Martin Brundle, was on hand at Silverstone Circuit in England to offer advice. Brundle then took to the nearby forests in McRae's Subaru Impreza 555 rally car, offering an unique opportunity to see two of the world's finest drivers in a telling and different environment.
McRae was unsure of what to expect from the 7OObhp B&H Jordan-Peugeot 195; his previous circuit racing experience is limited to a couple of saloon car events. He wasn't disappointed though. "It was unbelievable" enthused Colin. "An absolutely fantastic experience! The speed didn't really surprise me, but everything else couldn't be more unlike rallying; the disciplines are totally different. With circuit racing there is a correct driving line and braking point that is absolutely vital. Having now driven an Fl car my admiration and appreciation for what these guys can do has rocketed. I set a time that was just over 2 seconds off Martin's, but to get closer would take years of practice and experience. And, to race wheel to wheel with twenty other cars would be something completely different - mind blowing!".
Martin Brundle, one of Formula One's most experienced and respected drivers, was equally impressive in Colin's Subaru Impreza 555. "I'm a frustrated rally driver - no doubt about it" he admitted. "The speeds in rallying aren't that high, but you are constantly living on your reflexes. In rallying every run is different because the car slides around a different amount. Rally drivers intentionally upset the balance of the car as well which is something we never do in Fl. Formula One has to be inch-perfect - it's all about being precise. It's very different in a rally car. It's a question of loosening it up and then driving it. What really amazed me was how late they go into the braking area - considering the surface is gravel. They have the car really dancing".
Flow a rally driver will take to Formula One and how a circuit racer makes the transition to rallying is often pondered by motorsports experts and observers. Both McRae and Brundle acquitted themselves extremely well; Colin completed 20 laps of Silverstone's 1.642 mile National Circuit posting a best time of 52.30seconds, against Brundle's best of 50.43s. "He got the hang of it really quickly" commented Martin, "and drove with great confidence. Very impressive". Meanwhile Brundle was timed at 53.70seconds over the l.3mile Pentimore Wood Special Stage shortly after Colin had recorded a best of 52.40s. "It was very peculiar sitting in the co-driver's seat - "I kept going for the pedals!" joked Colin, "but Martin was quick - worryingly close to my time!".
-- Stephen M Baines
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