When Sky Sports News’ F1 analyst Tony Jardine asked Olympic skeleton gold medallist Amy Williams MBE to co-drive for him on Wales Rally GB at world-class level, Amy – a self-confessed adrenalin junkie – said yes straight away.
That was just two months ago, and in that short time they had to complete four national rallies in order for Amy to gain her international navigators licence required to compete in Wales Rally GB. Their aim was simply to complete the only British round of the World Rally Championship (WRC). However, the pair exceeded their expectations finishing 26th overall and first in class 3.
The final day of Wales Rally GB (17 November) started with the Dyfnant stage, followed by Penllyn and Clocaenog – the Power Stage of the WRC finale. Then it was on to the Kinmel Park RallyFest stage and finally the famous, spectacular Great Orme where the crowds flocked to cheer on their rallying heroes.
However, the pair suffered the toughest day of the rally so far. There was an issue at service in the morning meaning they were late departing and were issued a time penalty. At the start of the second stage the intercom failed forcing Amy to shout the pace notes to Tony for over quarter of an hour. Then they endured turbo issues and to top it off they got a puncture at the end of the second run of Kinmel Park.
Despite all this, plus Amy’s illness earlier in the week leaving her unable to complete the recce, they still won their class and finished in the top 26 on one of the toughest rallies on the WRC calendar. This is Tony’s best ever Rally GB finish (his top result previously was 35th in 2002) and an incredible feat for Amy, having gone from rally novice to fully fledged WRC competitor with an incredibly short training period.
Amy Williams commented: “It was a tough day to finish on. I loved it, it was really enjoyable but I feel like everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. We had technical issues before we even left this morning so we were late into the first time control which was pretty upsetting. Our intercom went wrong, the anti-lag didn’t work, we had red lights flashing, a puncture and we got stuck behind a police car for ages. But I just laughed it off, I managed to keep really calm throughout all of it and we kept pushing.
“I’m gobsmacked at how well we’ve done. I’m still in shock now plus absolutely exhausted. Now we’re going to have some champagne with the team, the whole team have done so well, it’s not just Tony and me, it’s everyone. The car has been fantastic, it’s been amazing. I have loved every minute of this experience. It’s been tough, probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I would love to have the opportunity to do this again, I feel genuinely sad that this could be the last time I’m in a rally car. I’ve caught the rallying bug, I can see why these guys do what they do. That need for speed, the thrill, and always being on the edge really appeals to me. I need an opportunity to come my way, I’d love to co-drive again and I would love to have a go at driving too!”
Amy joked: “I did just make a deal with Sebastién Ogier that I would teach him to do skeleton if he taught me to drive! Seriously though, it has been awesome and I really hope I get the chance to get in a rally car again.”
Tony Jardine said: “Today was the hardest day of the whole rally. We were late coming out of service this morning and I nearly switched the car into safe mode during the first stage as we had several warning lights come on, the car was on half power and I was worried about putting stress on the engine. I turned the anti-lag off and after a few kilometres I got some power back so by the end of the stage it was working alright but without the anti-lag, then finally on the second stage it kicked back in. We suffered event timing issues during the day, stage direction issues and I made a few errors on stage. Then at the end of Kinmel we got a puncture. We changed it in about three and a half minutes and drove like crazy to get to the Great Orme which was a really good stage, a Welsh classic.
“I am absolutely fatigued, I’ve hardly slept all event because I’ve been wired, it’s such a big event with so much pressure. Amy has been fantastic, we’ve gelled really well. Her note calling, in fact everything she’s done has been brilliant. During all the stress of today, Amy was the one being totally positive, a true sporting star. I am privileged to have driven with her and today I achieved my best ever Rally GB result. We were first in our class and 26th overall. I am stoked.”