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GP Week : Issue 144
WRC FEATURE >> same strategy, that is probably the biggest thing I’ve learned. Learning to control my competition from the front is probably the biggest thing that I’ve had to cope with. Learning to cope with pressure, learning to be mentally fit and to be able to work with the other drivers and mess with their heads for want of a better word, everything apart from driving as you said, it just gets you in good shape. Which is your natural rally surface, the one you’ve had the most basic original experience of? Gravel or asphalt? “ Tarmac I would say. Back home the tarmac is completely different to anywhere else in the world, maybe similar to the Barum Rally being quite bumpy, and narrow. I love tarmac. “Learning driving on gravel I’ve picked things up just from experience. I go to John Haugland in Norway every winter and do some practice, but that’s on snow. I find it quite natural to drive on gravel, I don’t find it difficult. I’ve done lots of different gravel events, like slow gravel rallies in Portugal, high speed gravel in Finland, wet muddy stuff like in Scotland and GB and I’ve taken it in both the R2 and the Super 2000. I think its just been a general development over the last two years. Obviously you must have had heroes or people that you admired in rallying, where were the people that you looked at? “Probably no-one in the World Championship will ever know who Frank Meagher was, but to me he was a legend. He was from nearby Cloneen in Tipperary. He died in an accident testing a Sierra Cosworth car in 2002. He was in fact the brother-in-law of Tom Gahon who now runs my car. Frank was a complete hero for every young boy in my area when I was growing up; he was an inspiration to all of us. Frank had been Irish rally champion and could have progressed far further but just didn’t have the budget. I know people may be saying I’ve surpassed what he’s done, but I could never excel what Frank Meagher could have done.” Where do you want to go from here? “For maybe two or three weeks after I started rallying I wanted to do it for fun, but once I got into it, I wanted to prove to people that I can do this, prove that I can be the best and I will continue to do that for as long as I think I can be the best. There’s nothing stopping me. “OK I haven’t got much experience, I probably started a little bit later than everyone else – I didn’t start till I was 19. We have to be realistic Mr Mikkelsen is 22 years old, Jari-Matti got his first win at 23. We need to be making progress but I would like to see myself in a position to win world championship rallies in the next three or four years. From there, who knows. All images courtesy Martin Holmes