Top athlete and self-confessed adrenalin junkie Amy Williams, along with driving partner, Sky Sports News’ F1 analyst Tony Jardine, is making her final nervous preparations to compete with the rally elite in Wales Rally GB (14-17 November).
Billed as the ‘Rally of Legends’, this is arguably the toughest round of the World Rally Championship (WRC). Over the years, only the best rally drivers in the world have emerged victorious. Lying ahead of Tony and Amy is 1543.82 kilometres of dangerous terrain and four days of tough, daunting Welsh forests. Along with these unforgiving, testing conditions, they can also expect pitch black during their first night while navigating through mist, fog, ice and mud.
They’ll begin their mission from Conwy Castle, in the four-wheel-drive ProSpeed-run Mitsubishi Evo supported by Gran Turismo®6, PlayStation®, MIS Motorsport, Kumho Tyres and SkyBet. The car has received weeks of meticulous preparation to try and ready it for the battering it is about to receive, with the crew preparing for a marathon test of concentration and endurance. Despite Amy’s limited experience, she will still be expected to climb the steep face of the WRC mountain.
Having never competed in a rally before September, Williams, who is learning to be a rally navigator alongside Jardine, has completed an impressive four national rallies in the space of just ten weeks. The star of recent programmes such as ‘Sportswomen’ (Sky Sports News) and ‘A League of Their Own’ (Sky 1), Amy has achieved rally class awards on her Road to Wales and the World Rally Championship. A sporting legend in her own right, she has managed to qualify as an international co-driver just in time.
Despite her own packed schedule, Amy has been cramming in intensive training with Britain’s top Works Ford rally navigator, Daniel Barritt. Williams has urgently been trying to learn rules, regulations, timing and navigation at world level, all in the space of five days before the reconnaissance starts on 12 November.
Williams said: “I can’t pretend I’m not nervous, I was comfortable until I sat down with Daniel in front of a mountain of paperwork, maps and rules, and then I started to panic! This is a whole new game on an entirely different level.”
Barritt, who will co-drive for rising star Elfyn Evans in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS in Wales Rally GB, believes that despite the big task ahead, Amy will cope. He said: “Amy has done very well and there has been an awful lot for her to learn, but she seems to be taking it all on board and hopefully with the work she has put in over the last couple of months, she will be ready for Wales Rally GB next week. I’ve been rallying now for fifteen years and you’re still learning every time you compete, so to try and train to get to WRC level in the limited time Amy has had is very difficult. But I am confident she’ll be fine.”
Given her Olympic triumph at the highest level, Amy should be used to pressure, but she is still feeling it: “Right now I am feeling a lot of pressure, although, it’s a very different kind from the skeleton – there I was in my comfort zone and people were expecting results! Here, even though the other rallies have gone well so far, the World Championship will be a totally different and much tougher challenge.”
The partnership between the presenter and the athlete has gone from strength to strength over the course of the four rallies. Jardine said: “Amy has done spectacularly well to get this far. With the four rallies completed in a variety of conditions, we have developed a partnership through good chemistry, and we have the fantastic ProSpeed team around us led by Olly Marshall. However, we know it is still going to be pretty tough – two hours without any team support on Friday alone, our aim is simply to finish!”