So much for more time for Ferdinand after last weekend: this week has been even madder than last. Much activity has centred on the WRC debut of the Tuthill Porsche 997 RGT car.
Originally intended to debut on the Ulster Rally, the schedule did not allow for transport to the first test to Germany on the following Monday: Germany is too far away at 53 mph in the race truck. So it is straight off to Germany today, to arrive on Sunday. There follows a week of full on activity with testing, recce, shakedown and then the rally proper.
I had a look through the WRC event paperwork with Richard this morning and it’s amazing what they give the teams to get their heads around, even before the co-driver paperwork. Speaking of which, Stèphane Prévot is co-driving with Richard next weekend, and that is another delight.
Stephane started with Bruno Thiry in European rallying before moving to WRC in 1993. He then partnered Francois Duval, Stèphane Sarrazin and now runs with Subaru/Hyundai WRC pilot, Chris Atkinson. The pair are not racing again until Australia, so Prévot can partner with Tuthill. Stèphane is well known to the team, as he often sits alongside Glenn Jannssens, Tuthill’s Belgian Historic championship winner.
An unbelievable amount of work has gone into the 997 development and launch, so opportunities to really enjoy that achievement have been few and far between. Richard took the car out to bed in new brakes last night and said that the nicest surprise was the smile that appeared on his face half way around our local test route. “The 997 GT3 might look big, but it doesn’t feel big once you get moving,” said Richard. “Our aim in Germany is just to enjoy being back in a WRC paddock, with what we think is the coolest car.
“We’ll be looking for reliability as it’s not an easy car to service and we still need to understand the best approach to that side of things. It is so exciting and there is a huge amount of interest in what we’re doing. I’ve got to shut that excitement out, find some space and just focus on the road.” The enormity of a Porsche 911 in full-on FIA WRC rallying makes me nervous just standing next to the machine, so I am super excited for the team.