World Rally Championship co-driver Daniel Elena has spent his illustrious career giving orders, rather than taking them.
Staying at home during COVID-19 has required a new approach and a change of pace for Monaco-born Danos.
The newfound availability of time has brought with it an opportunity for him to pick up new pastimes that are a far cry from the rigours of the world’s rally stages, but equally demanding in their own way.
Green-fingered techniques, Pétanque pace notes and dabbling in Scrabble are on the daily itinerary, while - of course - spending moments to look back on past WRC glories and to reflect on the challenges faced by so many during this difficult period.
Over to Danos…
Danos, where you are currently and how are you passing the time?
“I am in the countryside in the south of France. Everything is fine but of course, like everybody else, the days are long when you are closed in at home. Fortunately, I have a garden so it’s easy for me to go outside, do some gardening, and play some boules.”
Are you a keen gardener normally?
“No, definitely not! I never did any gardening before. I tried to plant some things for salad ingredients, but it’s all completely new for me. I’m not sure what we’ll have at the end! I am usually in Monaco, travelling or keeping busy; it’s unusual for me to be in the same place for so long.”
And by boules, do you mean pétanque?
“Yes, exactly. I have a pétanque pitch at home. For training purposes, it’s OK but when you play on your own it’s not so easy. Similar to rallying, though, it’s all about training yourself to improve.
"Maybe when this situation is over, I’ll be a bit better. For sure, I am the best out of myself. Perhaps I need to train the members of Hyundai Motorsport to play.”
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are back for their first WRC round in three years.
How important is it for you to maintain your mental wellbeing with games and gardening?
“It’s absolutely important to pass the time and to keep healthy. Sometimes I play on the PlayStation, I watch some TV, spend some time following the daily situation online. But it’s not easy for everybody.
"There are lots of less fortunate people, those with smaller apartments or without gardens; that’s a far tougher situation.”
How are you on rally games?
“I try my best, but I have managed to confirm that I am better as a co-driver. I struggle to finish most stages because it’s so demanding. I’ll leave the driving to Séb, for sure.”
Do you re-watch old events on YouTube?
“Yeah, I look sometimes. There are a lot of memories that come to mind in these moments. Looking back at past events with Colin (McRae), with Richard (Burns), and of course with us when we were younger.
"It’s nice that you have all these fan montages on YouTube. It’s like online solidarity, trying to put together all of these special moments for everyone to relive in these long, difficult days.”
Do you have a message for all the fans around the world?
“Staying home right now is the most important thing. If everybody respects the rules, stays at home, waits a bit, hopefully this will pass quickly.
"I am also thinking about the members of our team and hope they are all safe. We will return from this at maximum attack.”
Nine times World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, in action on the picturesque Monte-Carlo stages.
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