Rally Ireland. The accident did not frighten me!
The result is of course expected, because all the general condition and preparation to the race told their own tales…
During the preparation to the rally in Ireland I did not swear only with the dead and with other continents representatives. Mad and nutty because of some ridiculous details, I concentrated for the qualification by some miracle.
Only God knows how everything came in…
The tests went well, I think, but I will not say that I drove there faultlessly and exceptionally fast, but I had so much pleasure, it is beyond words.
This is confirmed by the words of my coach Alexander Potapov: “If the spectators run away, you are going fast!”
Even the guy in R5 put in reverse gear when I finished – he obviously decided that I would not stop…
As for the tests, there was pouring rain, and we tried the tyres. I liked Pirelli rain composition so much that I even began to dream about such rain during the race.
Then according to the schedule we had a qualification. I started the first run too roughly, slipped on the mud and drove through the ditches, gathered dirt to the wheel disks. After cleaning Dmitry and I had a pile near each wheel. The second run went better, and with the handbrake, which is terribly uncomfortable and require a superhuman effort on my part, we worked perfectly.
Having passed the scoring run perfectly, I fluttered with joy, it was faultless, fast and professionally. Especially given the fact this was the first race on asphalt and in a new, little known Mitsubishi X.
Dmitry and I showed the 2nd time in the class and the 20th in the overall standings.
Rain started exactly during the ceremonial start, and I thought that the race would be difficult: having remembered the stages from the recce, the qualification was my exhibition – to come to a foreign country and not to lose face. We pushed there so hard that the brakes were burning, though I did not mind it.
There was also rain in the morning when we started. What can I say about the roads? To say they are challenging is to say nothing, but I liked it.
The rain was still falling, and we had not the best times, awful times by the special stage results.
From the first special stage I had troubles with the handbrake and missed the first tight corner, I put in reverse gear, it knocked me out and upset. Very much.
Then I was scared of straw on the road and other strange substance, that was scattered here and there by previous crews.
Everybody told me not to push hard, well, I took care and hid to stay on the road.
In fast places the car behaved strange, so sometimes I could not believe that we still did not hit the marbles.
For the second leg I concentrated and relaxed a bit, and it was probably the only stage where we felt pleasure. Short time we did, as the handbrake and brakes let us down once more so I had to use reverse gear again…
There are many tough jumps in Ireland so I nearly lost the wheel several times after landing.
The unreal amount of these jumps forсed me almost to cry… Just from the hopelessness, anger, injustice, when I just lose because of technical issues, and they in turn keep me out of concentration.
On Friday there was evening city special stage where I was ready to shame myself, fearing that I would not turn the car with that ill-fated handbrake in narrow places. I did not want to drive that SS. But… The first pass – handbrake and car stops, I did not have enough power to move the damn car on slicks!!
During the last pass I dashed into some hedge thanks to the handbrake. It was real fiasco – to come at the fence out of the blue! And I can not write on the livery: “Guys, I am a fragile girl and I do not have enough power for the handbrake, they did not have time to remake the car for me after some Hulk”.
I put in the reverse gear three times, and there was TV, spectators, the team of videographers came to make a plot, Eurosport and rally news radio… I used foul language in English live and drove the second time with a feeling of fulfillment. I was driving and almost crying right at the special stage. So the reverse gear was locked in once or twice more, but when we approached to the trouble turn again, my co-driver Dmitry pulled the handbrake properly, and our Lancer turned the same. I caught the car, and we drove to the finish line, already laughing why he did not do it earlier.
We lost so many seconds that we could not regain. I guess my problem is that I lose before the competition ends. I should learn not to give up too soon.
On Sunday everything went upside down again, and at the first special stage I modestly went left instead of turning right.
In addition we lost the brakes by the end of the special stage. And the service was as far as China: there was twisted 26-kilometer special stage ahead.
Inessa started to feel overheated. We got to the refueling area, and all my dear men began to tell me that “I brake a lot, but not that way, I can do it later, better with my left foot, and there is no necessity to hold it, and generally forget everything, well done!”
I do know about troubles with my brakes, so why to be nervous in vain? So I drove – my head to heaven, and my legs to the police.
Guys continued to discuss that I rarely lock in the 5th gear, and lose much in fast places. But we have already pushed and I heard “right 5, up, jump, right 4” – everything with the acceleration, so who knew it has been 150 km/h on the speedometer by that moment. The car jumped, I could barely keep it, so I did not have time to lock in the lower fourth gear. Lancer tried to jump out where we did not plan to pop up at all – there was dirt, grass, and on the slicks it was “oh, that’s all”.
Lancer turned to the right, but the rear wheels hit the grass and dirt, and we were going sideways. Dmitry cried out to me “Gaz!”, but we were evening the centuries soil with our rear bodywork and gently moving solidly dug gates made of stone and concrete. Gates were immediately thrown away to 50 meters, and a traditional Irish fence was then crowned with white Lancer.
I saw stars after the impact – it was so painful. Still hanging on the bushes we were fighting hard and trying to get back to the track to continue the race.
However, soon it became clear this was useless idea – we got stuck.
By the time the excited spectators became active, they were too happy – the accident! They came joyfully, brought some local newspaper with an article about me, started to take pictures, chat and drink coffee.
And I liked it so much, I really want to go back! A few more days after that my Facebook was hot – they called me real Irish, I sunk into their hearts. The same to me, frankly speaking.
What else can I add about the accident – it already has my style! Right turns and heavy impacts by my side of the car (I save the co-driver). But the most impressive thing is I am not afraid and do not stop!