Thursday | 22 Jan 2015

Idris Elba’s starring role at WRC launch

Hollywood superstar Idris Elba experienced the thrill of top-level rallying this afternoon, when Sebastien Ogier took him on a high-speed blast around the streets of Monte-Carlo in a Volkswagen Polo R World Rally Car.

The British star of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and TV series The Wire and Luther, jumped into Julien Ingrassia’s co-driver’s seat at the WRC season launch to find out more about the sport for a TV documentary during which he will compete on a rally in Ireland.

A self confessed petrol-head, Elba has described rallying as ‘the pinnacle of motorsport’. Last year he got behind the wheel himself for a BBC documentary ’Idris Elba King of Speed’, and had lessons on a Finnish rally stage with 1981 Champion Ari Vatanen and his rally driving son Max.

“I just had an amazing lesson from Seb - the number one driver in the world,” Elba told after two laps of a special circuit built on the iconic harbourside.

“Okay, it’s a safe course, a spectator course, but I learned so much. I’m competing in the [non championship] Irish Rally and I’m lucky to drive [here] with the number one driver. I learned some interesting, subtle, things about safety and car control as well.”

Ari Vatanen was on hand to offer advice as he was strapped into the car, and Elba credited him with firing his passion for the sport. “Ari is definitely my grandfather in this business,” he said.

“He is the man who brought me into a car first - along with Max too. It was good to see them here. And he’s going to help me progress. Before I compete in April, I’m probably going to see Ari again for some tips.”

The competitive action at Rallye Monte-Carlo gets underway tonight with first stage, the 21.31km from Entrevaux, starting at 2021hrs.

Elba was in Monte Carlo for a series to be broadcast on Discovery in the middle of the year, in more than 220 countries including USA. 

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