When asked to take a seat in a Citroën C3 Rally2
After extensive preparation and months of planning, it was finally time for the ACTRONICS Rallye Tierra de Madrid. And because we are the proud partner as of this year, of course we do not follow this rally from a distance. We want to be there! Not only to act as a point of contact, but also to taste the atmosphere. So the trip went to Spain, an experience to remember.
First to connect the dots
After we arrived in Madrid on Thursday, a day later the start of the rally was scheduled. Around the clock of 2, the so-called “shakedown” was driven just outside the Spanish capital. On this three kilometer long course, the participants had the opportunity to polish the set-up of their car just that little bit before the real special stages were on the agenda. The gravel course, with the Madrid skyline in the background, was the perfect preparation for these upcoming tests.
So does that mean the drivers are taking it easy? No, on the contrary! You can compare it a bit to free practice in Formula 1: By trying to push the limit, it creates a good picture of the car’s ability to cover the course as fast as possible. And precisely at the limit you can very well notice where there is still some profit to be made. Moreover, the rally is also not exactly driven for nothing. In fact, the Madrid rally plays an important role in the decision of the Spanish gravel rally championship.
That the rally teams were indeed not holding back became immediately clear when we made our way past shakedown. Large gravel chunks flew through the air and because of the unevenness in the “road,” many drivers came through the corner with two wheels off the ground. This, by the way, much to the delight of the spectators present, who had gathered along the track while enjoying the Spanish sun.
A proposal you can’t say “no” to
By now it was around 4 o’clock and the shakedown was over. Well, almost. In fact, the organization had asked us to come to the start. Once we got there, the organization came to us with a very special question: “We have two cars ready for you to drive around the course at full speed. Would you like that?” A wholehearted “Yes!” quickly followed (of course).
But that wholehearted “Yes!” turned into some despair a few minutes later. For in the distance came the black Citroën C3 Rally2 of multiple Spanish asphalt rally champion Daniel Alonso rounding the corner. And that feeling didn’t get much better when Miguel, a member of the rally organization, uttered the now legendary words, “This is your car.”
Between the roar of the now idling rally car, it remained very quiet for a moment. After all, you should know: A rally car in Rally2 trim is serious stuff. It is the fastest rally car that can be used on a national level, and because of its four-wheel drive it gets out of the starting blocks even faster than a Formula 1 car(!).
Anyway, when do you get that chance? Never, right? So the initial fright soon gave way to a sense of excitement and a kind of positive competitive tension. After putting on the rally overalls and putting on the helmet, the door opened: “Hello, take your seat and enjoy!”, it sounded enthusiastically from behind the wheel. At least, that’s what it seemed like, because because of the helmet, everything sounded a little dull and distant. After a friendly handshake from the Citroën driver, it was time to take a seat in the passenger seat. After the seat belts were securely fastened and the intercom was connected, the “moment suprême” was almost there.
Ready for the start
We were about a hundred feet before the start. As we pulled up to the start, Daniel reassured me. “If I’m going too fast for you, tell me and I will slow down.” After an affirmative nod from me, the rally monster was taken out of “free” and put into its “1. We made our way toward the start of the test. At the start there was a clock where a car was allowed to start on the whole minute. But much faster than expected, I suddenly see 5 green balls appear in front of me, counting down from 5 to 1… And before I really realize it, the Citroen really takes off like a slingshot. We are off!
An unforgettable experience
At the first turn, I was immediately very pleased that the pilot had already driven the shakedown earlier that afternoon and already knew the road pretty well. It was as if he could see through the turns, because before the turn was visible to me behind the brush and height differences, he had already anticipated the next turn long and wide.