Tuesday | 29 Apr 2014

Jarmo Lehtinen: the perils of fog

Early morning fog is a hazard in the high sections of Rally Argentina. So, ahead of next week’s event, wrc.com asked Jarmo Lehtinen, co-driver for Mikko Hirvonen, for a clear insight into the gloomy stuff.

Q. How difficult is it to read pace notes in fog?
JL: It’s really not easy because the rhythm is messed up. In fog the driver needs to brake in odd places, so it’s difficult to keep a rhythm with the notes. I need to look out of the car more than normal.

Q. When visibility is low, how does that help?
JL: When it’s clear and I’m reading notes, I don’t need to look out because I know the rhythm and can feel the corners and braking. But when it’s foggy the driver brakes in unusual places, even on straights. It causes confusion because I don’t know if the straight is finished, or if he is halfway up but can’t see anything? I can’t rely on anything normal so I need to look to find out where we are.

Q. So is it harder on straights than twisty sections?
JL: Yes, long straights are worst. If the road continuously twists and turns it’s not so bad. The speeds aren’t so high and the rhythm can be maintained, but on long straights it’s difficult to find where we are.

Jarmo Lehtinen in action with Mikko Hirvonen at Rally de Portugal

Q: Is there anything you can do to make the job easier?
JK: Sometimes in our notes we highlight braking points at an odd-looking tree, a big stone or a house. We pick an object and use it as a braking mark or to show where the corner starts. The note can say ‘medium right from stone’ so we know the stone is the place to turn in and we can adjust the braking.

Q. Is it easy to tell when your driver is uncertain in fog?
A: I feel the difference immediately. The driver will say the notes were right and they were read correctly, but he didn’t have a feeling with the car. I feel it straight away, especially as I’ve co-driven for so long with the same person, like I have with Mikko.