Saturday | 07 Dec 2019

Guest column: Rich Millener

It’s not often jet lag works in your favour but it did for me last weekend. With a holiday booked after Kennards Hire Rally Australia, I stayed Down Under despite the loss of the WRC’s final round.

Not long after landing back into M-Sport, I was travelling south again. To Devon in Britain’s glorious south-west, where I spent much of my youth. Going home’s always a good thing, especially when you’re going home to compete on a rally.

After telling drivers what to do all season, I was jumping into their shoes and having a go myself. I was seeded at car two for the Barbara Carter Memorial Road Rally. No pressure then!

I imagine there are a few folk around the world who aren’t completely clear on what a British road rally’s all about. Basically, when everybody else goes to bed, you and your co-driver get into a car and find your way from place to place via really complicated navigation and on really small roads.

My co-driver was Michael Gilbey. Good bloke and former M-Sport colleague. But would he be any good on the maps? He was. Very good. And I wasn’t too bad behind the wheel.

There was one mistake from Mike, while he was plotting our course and I might have been a bit too ambitious under braking for a couple of junctions…. We managed to get stuck for a while but Mike offered to get out and push. That’s the spirit!

Starting at 2330, we were done by 0530 on Sunday morning – and we were second! We achieved our seeding!

Millener's day job is looking after M-Sport Ford's WRC drivers and co-drivers

I’ve got to admit, even though half my brain was still on Sydney time, the other half was struggling to come to terms with the south Devon lanes around Tiverton and Exmouth. It’s a good job I took Monday off work, I was fairly knackered by the time we were done.

But what a fantastic event. It took me back to the last time I did a road rally, when I was co-driving for my dad. It reminded me exactly why I got into this sport and why I still love it.

Congratulations to Exmouth Motor Club for putting on a great event and to the road rallying community for maintaining the grass roots of rallying in Britain.

In my job, I get asked a lot of the time about the best way into rallying for youngsters and road rallying remains right up there. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways of competing and teaches you so much.

It’s got me completely hooked again and I’m already looking for my next event. I might even invite Mike back for another go!

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