Photo credit: Jason Byrne

Meet the Co-Driver – Fleur Pedersen

Fleur Pedersen - Photo credit Geoff Ridder
Fleur Pedersen – Photo credit Geoff Ridder

Name : Fleur Pedersen
Motorsport Club: Harbour Capital Car Club

When did you first start rallying? 
My first rally as a codriver was in July 1997, in Wanganui. Prior to that I had done a few rallies service crewing.

I personally think sitting in the “silly seat” of a rally car is a little un-nerving.  Do you ever get nervous / sick / worried?
I don’t get sick or worried, but at times I get a little nervous prior to starting a rally – however this is more about making sure I get everything right. There is a lot of pressure on a codriver to get everything exactly right – and not just the notes! Once the rally is underway any nerves disappear. I think an important attribute as a codriver is the ability to remain calm whilst in the car. A worried or nervous codriver will struggle to do that.

I know the effort that you put in behind the scenes before a rally etc, but for the sake of our readers, would you like to explain what you do, and what you’re responsible for during a rally weekend?
As a codriver I take responsibility for making sure we are at the right place at the right time. This includes getting to reconnaissance on time and getting from stage to stage during reconnaissance. It is also my job to write down or modify the notes that the driver wants to hear during the rally. I make sure we meet any publicity commitments during the lead up to the rally. I take care of documentation, insuring I have what I need and the service crew have the paperwork they need to do their jobs (maps, road books, itinerary). Once the rally starts, I am responsible for giving all required directions to the driver, following the road book to get to the stages, making sure we adhere to the required times, and also to the rules and regulations for each event. Within the stages I am calling the notes to the driver and ensuring they are delivered clearly and at the right time.  In our team I also take full responsibility for our onboard cameras.

Do you prefer a certain type of car, if so what is it and why?
I really like Mitsubishi Evolutions, they have good torque and are usually reliable. However, I have had the privilege of codriving in Brian’s Ford Escort WRC, and also having a ride during testing in a Ford Focus WRC, and both of these cars are truly amazing!

What rally / stage has been the most memorable for you and why?
Tough question! I have been fortunate enough to have rallied in so many difference places, and have so many amazing experiences on rallies. Rallying on a frozen river in Mohe, China was an extremely unique experience! Along with that, winning my first International Rally, the Rally of Malaysia in 2003 was quite an incredible feeling. Rally of Thailand 2011, which we won and in the process won the Kings Cup was also very special as we had been trying to win it for a number of years. The WRC Rally Ireland in 2007 was amazing for the atmosphere – the Irish are fanatical about rallying!

Do you prefer gravel or tar seal and why?
I have been fortunate enough to rally on a number of different surfaces, including tarmac, gravel, snow, ice (a frozen river) and clay. Gravel is my favourite, though I do love any surface so long as I am getting to rally on it! Probably my preference for gravel is due to the fact that it is the surface I have the most experience on, and therefore feel most comfortable with. It is also a pretty awesome sensation to slide sideways round corners and gravel affords the most opportunities to do that, and get away with it!!

How would you advise someone thinking of starting out in the sport as a co-driver?
Ask questions, don’t be scared to ask those with more experience to help you out both before and during rallies. Be prepared. Read the rules and some sample road books before getting to the first rally. Spend some time with an experienced codriver and have them go through how to read road books, complete timecards, and how to read and understand notes (if you are going to be using them) a few weeks prior to your first rally. Most of all, enjoy yourself!

Have you had a go at the driving at any time?  How did that go?
No, I have only driven rally cars on transport stages. I had the privilege of driving Brian’s World Rally Car once – but only on a transport (road) section!

What do you like to do to relax when not rallying?
I have a horse, and enjoy going out riding. I also enjoy a good book, and meeting with friends for a nice Hawkes Bay wine 😉 Exploring new places is something I especially enjoying doing.


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