Home Shakedown with Carlos del Barrio

2019 FIA World Rally Championship Round 04, Rallye de France 28-31 March 2019 Carlos Del Barrio Photographer: Helena El Mokni Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

We’re are all coping with the current situation the best we can. Some people find it hard to stay inside and give up their daily routines, but I think the most painful thing was letting go of fun elements of our lives. And rallying and stage spectating play a major part in that. Yet, we must not give up hope – there is still time for at least some rallying action to happen, if not on WRC level then maybe on regional or national scenes around the world.

Hyundai’s WRC team released an interesting chat they had with Carlos del Barrio in which they asked him some questions about the current situation, so here’s how some of our heroes are dealing with it.

Carlos, how have you been coping with the ongoing situation?
“Spain had been in lockdown for several days before I returned from Rally México, but we have spent considerable time at home, so it has been important to stay fit, busy and positive. Though the situation here has gone from bad to worse in the past few weeks, we have started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
What sort of activities have been keeping you busy?
“I made myself a routine of studying. I have tried to improve my French level, which was not so fantastic a year ago, as well as Italian. I’ve been doing some fitness as well, trying to maintain a low-calorie diet because otherwise, I gain weight.”
You’ve also been volunteering with Civil Defence Force?
Yes, we have been giving out face masks, doing shopping for the elderly and spraying a mix of water and sodium hypochlorite to try and stop the spread of the virus. Because I live alone, I’m completely available for the community. It’s incredible, in my village every person is helping each other. We have a lot of farmers here but also a lot of old people, and the most important thing is they don’t feel alone. It helps me a lot as well for my mind, to feel that I am useful. As professional sportspeople, normally we must be very selfish if we want to win, but now it’s completely the other side of the story. We must be helpful for the people and think not just about ourselves but other people.”
What training have you been able to achieve with the limitations?
“The most important thing for me is running and we haven’t been allowed out to do that. It’s been very frustrating, but we have had to respect the regulations, and all play our own part in helping the situation. I have managed to use the gym apparatus at home at least.”
How do you cope mentally without long-distance running?
“My last marathon was back in December after the Monza Rally Show. I realised there was a marathon in the south of Spain, in Malaga, so I entered on Monday and then flew down on Friday to compete. I did 42km in four hours, which is OK. My best time – 3h 11m – was nine years ago. I never start a marathon thinking about the full distance; I focus on the first ten kilometres, then when they are complete, I think about the next ten, and so on. The lockdown situation has required a similar mindset. Think about today, then tomorrow, but not beyond otherwise it’s so easy to get mad. You have to value time in a different way and take things step-by-step.”
Are the language studies a form of brain training?
“Exactly! I love languages so I have the chance now and the time to do it. French, Italian and I’m also working on my English. Of course, I would also have loved to spend time to prepare the next rally, but we don’t know what that’s going to be, so there’s not much to do. I was all ready to prepare for Sardinia when I got back from Mexico, but we now have to wait and see what happens.”
Are you getting your rally fix online?
“I have seen some stuff on YouTube. Sometimes it has been better than watching the news which has been non-stop about the virus, understandably. I have watched some old rallies from the 70s and 80s online. I have also kept on top of my paperwork, and also read the technical manual from Hyundai. It’s important to keep your mind occupied.”
Have you been in regular contact with the team?
“I have had various forms of contact with the team. Every two or three days there is a WhatsApp message from Andrea. And there are many different chat groups within the team, with the drivers and co-drivers, with Dani of course. Otherwise, I’d get bored.”
Any words for the team and the many rally fans waiting for the action to resume?
“I’m certainly not the one for advice on this situation but we must stay focussed and keep our concentration. Whenever things get back to normal, we must be prepared to tackle whatever comes our way. To return to action as the best team in the world as we are now. For the fans around the world, we’ll be back – hopefully, sooner rather than later – we must remain positive.”