Atko’s Tales #2
- 30th January 2007, 10:27am
Hello everyone back in Aus!
I hope everybody had a great Christmas and an exciting New Year, as I know I did! There’s been a lot happening since I last checked in so I’ve got lots of fun new stories to enlighten you with.
When I last left you just after Rally GB we headed to Bologna, Italy, to one of the biggest motor shows in Europe for a more relaxed exhibition style of racing.
We beat Gigi (Galli) on the first day in the semis and narrowly lost to Toni Gardemeister in the final. We took third in the main race on Sunday with Galli taking top honours; those Italians can be super quick on home soil!
I had heaps of fun at the show, especially ripping doughnuts at the end of each day, much to the delight of the massive Italian crowd! And the food, oh, some of the best in the world – can’t go past Italian cooking!
After testing the 2007 Impreza. I spent a quick week in Japan for PR before returning to France to test the car and new tyres (BF Goodrich) for Monte Carlo. This was the last test for the year so a mate and I made our way to the French Alps to meet up with some boys from the Goldy (Gold Coast) and get in some long awaited snowboarding.
The snow itself could have been better but it was an awesome place to spend Christmas and New Year, especially when your mates run the busiest pub on the slopes!
New Year’s Eve was a smashing party, the theme was super-heroes and the surprise of the night was an unsuspected, lit, fire cracker that managed to make its way into my back pocket, courtesy of my newly acquainted London friend Nick… his payback will come soon enough!
After a monstrous battle back down the mountain with our three summer tyres and one space saver (after a puncture we collected while on the mountain) I set off to the south of France to find a place to live for the year. I haven’t really had a proper home for the last two years, just been living out of a suitcase, so it’ll be good to finally have somewhere to retire to between rallies.
With help from my mate and fellow driver, Marko Martin, I finally found a place after a couple of weeks of searching, with a great view in a nice quiet part of town just up from the beach!
Well, it’s not really like our beaches, sand is replaced with small stones and there are no waves! But the Mediterranean Sea is crystal clear so it kind of makes up for the lack of surf.
Just before Rallye Monte Carlo I set out to load up the apartment so it would be ready for me to move into once the rally finished. Who would have thought shopping in France could be this difficult? Two young Aussies running round a busy French shopping centre with no real idea how to speak their language in search of everything from TVs to tea towels - it was a nightmare!
The lead-up to Rallye Monte Carlo, for me, was two weeks of intense training after a few weeks rest and relaxation over the festive period. This included daily gym sessions, runs along the south coast of France and some Aussie style training involving footy, cricket and soccer with my mate and former ARC competitor, Michael Taylor, in his home town of Modena in Italy.
It was great to go and catch up with Mikey Boy in Modena for a few days, a town that is home to the Ferrari F1 factory and, in my opinion, has the best pizzas and gellati in the world!
Fourth at Monte Carlo was a massive result for us and just the way we wanted to start the championship. The BF Goodrich tyres worked really well, with both Petter and I achieving our best Rallye Monte Carlo result.
With the new car due in Mexico, the goal is to finish the first three rallies in the points and then see if we can step it up with the new car. The battle I had with Mikko (Hirvonen) on the last stage of Monte was mega. We ended up taking fourth by just point two of a second on the 2km Monaco GP circuit.
I have been working very hard on my tarmac skills over the last year and it’s starting to pay off!
I’m really looking forward to Sweden and Norway in two weeks time. Believe it or not, they are some of the fastest rallies in the championship and the most exciting for drivers! You can drive in excess of 200kph on these roads (especially Sweden) and be regularly using snow banks to bounce off and keep the car on the road. Studded snow tyres are incredible!
Hope you all had an awesome Australia Day and I will catch you again soon.
Ciao for now
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