A career on stage has always appealed to me. The thought of an audience being utterly in my thrall has always been attractive. I also reckon I can carry off the crash helmet look quite well. You see, I’m not talking about a stage with curtains and footlights, I’m talking about one that threads itself through the landscape and has lots of ‘natural furniture’ that you really don’t want to interact with at high speed.
That’s why I find myself at the Rallymaster School at Brands Hatch, Kent, feeling ever so slightly apprehensive about following in the footsteps of giants. In my formative years, I was gripped by the antics of Toyota rally stars such as Carlos Sainz, Juha Kankkunen and Didier Auriol, world champions all. Now, I’m also going to be driving a Toyota rally car, one of a fleet of new Toyota GT86 coupés that have been converted to rally specification for the school. Me? Nervous? Well, I haven’t felt much like eating today.
The school is run as a partnership by died-in-the-wool rallyists John Wood and John Caryl, both of whom have that relaxed, healthy air that a lifetime succeeding in your proven motorsport discipline seems to bring. As our group signs on they bring a light-heartedness to proceedings, relaxing us all using gentle humour.