South West rally drivers Tom Wilde and Andrew Macdonald recently returned from a gruelling week at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, where they attended the 2011 Australian Motor Sport Foundation (AMSF) Driver Development Program. 

Wilde and Macdonald are considered to be two of Australia's most promising drivers under 24 years old across all disciplines of motorsport.  The pair was selected on their past results and achievements and their potential to be future international drivers.

The training camp was run by Lucas Docking from Skaife Motorsport with funding from the AMSF and followed a formula familiar to any sports camp for those at the elite levels of their sport. The camp covered everything from nutrition, psychology, strength, conditioning, recovery and media skills, the participants were also subject to Australia's leading physiology testing, physiotherapy and massage.

The programme aims to provide drivers with an opportunity to develop their skills in an environment away from competition and with the aim of improving their level of performance. Well known motorsport psychologist Dr Noel Blundell was on hand for one-on-one coaching and worked with the participants teaching them methods of training the mind to be at its peak performance for racing. Physiotherapist Glenn Lindsay from Ford Performance Racing (FPR) taught the group motorsport-specific fitness training methods. The group were also taught some valuable motorsport engineering principles by FPR's head engineer Matt Nilsson.

A considerable amount of the course involved intensive physical training such as strength and conditioning, sprints and beep tests, ice bath recovery and even Pilates. Each individual was tested like any athlete with skin fold tests, vertical jumps, sprints, upper body and core strength, and at the
conclusion of the week a report was given to each individual on their
performance with suggestions where they can improve.

Wilde, being familiar with the program having participated along with his co-driving twin sister Nerralie last year, has found the program very beneficial. "We use a lot of the techniques explained to us to prepare ourselves before and during rallies," said Wilde. "The training we were provided last year certainly helped us to win the 2010 Western Australian Rally Championship.” Wilde also said the training would give him an advantage when he competes at Rally Australia in the final of the Australian Junior Challenge in Coffs Harbour NSW in September.

Macdonald said:  "Being my first time, I certainly learned another side to motorsport.  It's not all about the car; you have to keep your mind and body in top condition to be successful."

The Drivers would like to thank AIS, CAMS, AMSF, Lucas Docking and the organising team, and all the presenters and trainers. A great week was had by all involved and the young drivers certainly came away feeling inspired and invigorated.

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