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Adrian Coppin has taken up an offer by Neal Bates to give him a tarmac master class ahead of Coppin’s European Rally Championship debut at next month’s Rally Croatia.
Bates, highly regarded for his prowess on both gravel and asphalt, spent half a day with Coppin at Wakefield Park Raceway near Goulburn last week with both drivers coming away from the experience full of positivity.
“It was a hugely encouraging day!” said Adrian. “To have someone of the experience of Neal Bates ride alongside you, offering his advice, that’s something I’ll never forget.”
Coppin’s Innate Motorsport team had converted his regular Ford Fiesta R2 from gravel to tarmac specification for the day, which allowed the young Canberran a chance to taste the front-wheel drive on Wakefield’s sealed surfaces.
“When we bought the car it arrived in tarmac spec, so we converted it back, which included changing the brakes, the dampers, the rear beam, the wheels and tyres. I was seriously surprised, for a little car it’s quick on tarmac!” Adrian exclaimed.
“Neal was in the co-drivers seat for the first few laps, and I was starting to get worried because he didn’t say a word! When I asked if it was all going ok he said he really didn’t have anything to add and was just enjoying the ride,” added Coppin.
For Bates who has driven everything from Targa Tasmania to V8 Supercars, the opportunity to sit in with Coppin was an experience he admitted he found extremely rewarding.
“He (Coppin) went incredibly well,” Bates said. “He was instantly fast and smooth, that’s the key to getting the best out of a car on tarmac, and it was clear he’s putting his background in circuit racing to good use.”
“I’ve been tarmac testing with guys like Simon Evans, Ben Barker and Chris Atkinson and Adrian was easily on the same level as these guys,” Bates added.
While a race track in rural New South Wales will prove a lot different to the country lanes of Rally Croatia, and the normally-aspirated Fiesta will perform differently to the turbo-charged Citroen DS3, both Coppin and Bates are confident that the test day will prove beneficial.
“For sure a race track is nothing like a rally stage but Neal kept reminding me that the fundamentals will stay the same. You’ve got to be smooth and let the car flow from corner to corner,” Coppin said.
“Of course in Croatia there will be surface changes and corner cutting to watch out for, but to spend a day with Neal really helped the confidence levels!”
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