In rallying, nothing comes close to “For sure”, the most common phrase ever, since the beginning of time. For sure, for sure is in the lead and by a huge margin, but this time I’d like to draw your attention to another well respected member of the rallying dictionary. You’ve all heard about luck, for sure. Unless you’re Mikko Hirvonen or pre-reboot Jari-Matti Latvala. Not to mention Petter Solberg. Luck is often the only thing standing between wheels of your supercool WRC car and the massive rock, ready to dismantle the sophisticated suspension in an instant. When your driving skills become irrelevant, for example when you run into a rock put on the road by: a) previous car, b) challenged spectator, all you can hope for is, well, luck. Or is it?
In rallying circuits you’ll often hear about luck, for sure. But you must know how to wield it if you want to make sense in discussions dealing with anything rally. For example, if driver ABC is crashing more than Ford-contracted Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg combined, you better not use word luck at all. As in, zero times, never, not even then. IF you decide to use it anyway, be prepared to endure some heavy bashing from the Experts (TM). They will promptly fix your broken perspective. And best of all, they would be correct to do so! What’s luck got to do, got to do with it… if you crash constantly… and for no apparent reason, almost.
But what do you call this thing that saved some drivers last week in Monte Carlo? Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were certainly riding along with Lady Luck, because no matter how many walls or guardrails they slammed into, they kept going. Ditch slapped? No problem. Sliding into a field on that stupid (STUPID!) stop control? No biggie. And Ogier & Ingrassia weren’t the only ones with this “problem” of having too much luck.
On the other hand, perhaps this isn’t about luck? Maybe, just maybe the way the car is built has a say in the final outcome of a crash too? It’s often easy to forget about all the elements of a successful rally crew and we sometimes just think of team as a bunch of people having fun traveling all over the world. But the amount of work put into every car part or component is staggering and the results are sometimes not very visible, but they’re there. Some part that did not survive a crash last year might be able to do so this year, just because some more time and engineering was put into it.
My pal Marko Šuto found this quote by Mr Ogier to be very appropriate for this topic and I fully agree. Luck isn’t what you make it, unless everything and your car rely on it.
“We had a bit of luck this weekend, we have to admit that,” Ogier said. “Our race could have ended on the first corner. All the road section was very humid and then on the first corner of the first stage there was small slush on the road. We understeered into a wall. Fortunately, the improvements we made on the car during the winter were quite clever because we reinforced all the steering and suspension. Now, I think that was a good idea.”