Those Winning ‘Nerves’.

Congratulations to Seb Loeb/Daniel Elena on heir 9th World Rally Championship, after winning the French Alsace Rally, a feat which I believe will never be repeated, certainly not in modern day rallying.

There is NO other driver like Loeb especially the way he drives braking before the bend and accelerating and carrying speed through the corners to maintain his momentum – But why hasn’t any other WRC driver picked-up on this or adapted there style to try and match Loeb?

Could it be they can’t, the cars just will not drive that way or is it some kind of mental block…I think its more do with pressure of the moment! Whether it’s a clubman rally or internationals pressure is everything.

When nerves get the better of you you’re driving and navigating goes to pot… getting a rhythm is vital but that’s what a championship does to you… that’s why being a partnership is so vital in the car… knowing the nuances of your driver whether it’s simple things like banter, chatting, keeping quiet, making sure you have enough fuel all these little things can keep the pressure off.

But what about when you’re preparing to go on a stage; crack a joke (might be inappropriate), but anything that changes your ‘normal’ routine before starting the countdown can mean a scrappy start to the stage and lots of lost seconds and before you know it you’re 10/15 seconds down, and in these modern day sprint events that can make all the difference.

From the left hand seat you need to seem relaxed and more importantly in control with timings, road books and even things like heavy breathing into the intercom – having your route notes close by and keeping a check on timecards! On the 2011 Bulldog Historic rally as we approached a wet and windy Dyfnant a navigator was seen running back down the road looking for his time cards which had ‘fallen out’ of the door pocket, not only did it cost time penalties but also looking at their subsequent stage time around 20 seconds lost compared with the norm.

Over the 20 years I’ve been navigating I’ve always found the best way to deal with ‘nerves’ or the chance of winning a class or an event is to be the same, don’t get rattled and never be scared to provide feedback especially when on stage tell him where to push or back off and drive your line.

Hopefully, with this you might not be the next World Champion but you may be able to make that step up in the clubman world.

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