SRC stars tap into Laukkanen’s experience
SRC John Horton Star Drive Award winner Michael Binnie and 2018 Scottish Junior champion Niall Cowan Jnr took advantage of expert tuition from Finnish legend Tapio Laukkanen last week.
The 1999 British Rally champion worked on a variety of driving elements with both Binnie and Cowan Jnr as the pair look to improve their abilities ahead of the fiercely competitive 2019 Scottish Rally Championship season.
Laukkanen sat with and assessed each driver in the morning, making adjustments to suspension and the driver’s seating position, before heading out with them in the afternoon to improve their driving style, where there were visible improvements against the clock.
Renowned navigator Drew Sturrock and his father Bill were also on hand to give two budding co-drivers tuition, with Harry Marchbank and Charley Sayer-Payne both drawing on Sturrock’s experience in the Galloway Forest Park last Thursday.
They learned how to best write pace notes and how to effectively plan a day’s rallying; a crucial element of being a sought after co-driver.
Binnie said the day had been incredibly useful in allowing him to understand his Mitsubishi Evo IX.
“The day was brilliant, a once in a lifetime opportunity to have someone of Tapio’s experience and skill sitting alongside me,” he said.
“I learned what I wanted about suspension set-up. We weren’t far away with the set-up to begin with but Tapio made some small adjustments to the front which helped.”
Cowan Jnr echoed Binnie’s thoughts, declaring the day “one of the best prizes you can win at clubman level” on top of his free entry into the Wales Rally GB National Rally earlier in the month.
“At the end of the day I felt a lot more comfortable in the car and smoother and quicker than I have been all year,” the MG ZR driver said.
“Tapio spent very little time in the car and made some big changes to start with before we even got onto my driving style.
“We got a pre-event recce where I got to write my own pace notes for the first time as well. I’d like to thank everyone at the Scottish Rally Championship as the dedication and effort [to provide this] is unreal, you aren’t treated just as another number.
“It’s now time to take this experience and the mileage I got in Wales into the championship next year.”
SRC Chairman Gordon Adam was delighted with how well the event went, and admitted he would be keen to see the championship do something similar in the future.
“Having Tapio Laukkanen working with our Junior champion and Star Driver has been a great success,” Adam said.
“Bringing Tapio across [from Finland] has been one of the best things we have done and full credit to Bill and Drew Sturrock who as well as facilitating Tapio’s visit had a full day training the co-drivers.
“The whole episode with the Star Driver shoot-out at Knockhill the week before coupled with this event is something the Scottish Rally Championship would like to repeat and maybe even expand [in the future.]”
The 2018 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship is partnered by Pirelli Motorsport, Reis Motorsport Insurance and KNC Groundworks Ltd.
The championship consists of seven forest events across Scotland, taking in over 300 competitive stage miles.