Having spent a bit more than a year racing with a standard BMW, I decided that just being somewhat broke is no fun and dove head first into no-money land by fitting a roll cage to my car to fulfill a lifelong dream of competing in rally.
Picture taken right after getting the car out of the shop - a very enjoyable moment
Before I could legally compete in a full-on rally, I had to do one rallysprint event. Rallysprint is basically a shorter version of rally - in the event I took part in, we had to do a total of 50 stage kilometres. Still, I did surprisingly well and finished third in my own class, despite having no experience and lacking a bit of power compared to others - a fantastic result!
Had to give a shout out to all of my sponsors
Having successfully completed that, it was now time to prepare for realizing my dream - competing in a full length rally as a driver! I was beyond excited and could not wait to get back in the car.
The car seems unfazed by my enthusiasm
We chose to compete in Tartu Rally, as it was relatively close by and I'd heard that Estonian rally stages are amazing (pro-tip: they are). As is usually the case, the whole last night was spent on last-minute preparatory work, and I got a total of 15 minutes of sleep before we had to do the recce. Despite that, it went quite well and the notes seemed to be good. It was finally time to race!
For those of you following the European Rally Championship, this is the spot where Lukyanuk had to retire in Rally Estonia
In this event, we weren't really able to fight for anything within our class, as my standard 2.8 liter BMW would be up against M3's with upwards of 400 horsepower, sequential transmissions and fantastic drivers. There was just one other relatively standard (as in, just ~50 more horsepower than us, along with rally suspension which is likely a bit better than the Bilstein B6 we had on my BMW) car in our class, with this being the first rally for them as well. Naturally, another reason why we weren't able to fight for the top spots was because this was my first full rally event, and this is a sport where experience counts for a whole lot - the grip you can get from gravel tires is simply unbelievable.
This is from day one - the Hella lights in front came in handy on the night stages
In what turned out to be a great ego-booster, we were significantly faster than the other new guys, beating them by more than three minutes over 122 stage kilometres. We finished fifth in our class, and, more importantly, were faster than the crazy GAZ-51 trucks on all stages. This might not seem like much of an achievement, but those drivers are insane (in a good way) and can actually set some pretty good stage times.
On the finish podium, happy as can be
With that, my first career rally was successfully finished, and now it's time to prepare for next year, when I hope to do a few more events in this car, and will hopefully be able to further improve my pace. Here's a quick video showing just how slow we looked from the outside: