Who likes them? I don’t, you don’t, and Gus Greensmith doesn’t either. Particularly when they’re on his feet.
When wrapped in Sparco racewear, Greensmith’s feet are supposed to be dancing on the pedals of his M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1. Not pounding against the rocky terrain of Greece as he runs in search of cell phone service.
But the stars of the World Rally Championship aren’t your average drivers, or even athletes. Nothing is too unglamorous for a rally driver, getting dirty and sacrificing it all is part of the job description.
However, when Greensmith next returns to the gym and focuses on his training program for Rally New Zealand in two weeks, he’ll be eternally thankfully for some proper running shoes and a consistent surface.
Greensmith had been enjoying a quietly impressive Acropolis Rally last week, particularly on Saturday.
As the chaos unraveled for those around him, Greensmith and Jonas Andersson snuck into the top six – just 3.4 seconds adrift of Elfyn Evans’ Toyota – with a strong second-fastest time on the first pass of Tarzan.
Greensmith was surprised.
“The car was cutting out throughout the stage, for sure we lost quite a lot of time in the second half of the stage,” he explained. “I’m sure it’ll be fine once we get back to service.”
Off Greensmith went to service back in Lamia, where he was greeted by the famous DirtFish microphone and the voice of rally, Colin Clark.
The engine issue was described as “small” and conversation quickly moved onto the afternoon loop: could Greensmith overhaul the more experienced Evans?
“Yeah, that’s the plan for the afternoon. Perfect afternoon would be getting past Elfyn and closing the gap to Dani [Sordo],” Greensmith offered.
“That’s what we’re going to aim to do, but then again nothing silly, just keeping the car… that’s what’s been good about today, the car’s always been fine. No moments, no nothing, so if we can continue like that, fantastic.”
But that car that had always been fine was about to cost Greensmith his shot at a result, and leave his feet in tatters.
Just over a minute onto Pyrgos 2, Greensmith was slow. Looking down at the dashboard, he was nowhere near full throttle.
“Aahhh, f*** f*** f*** f*** f***,” Greensmith said, interrupting Andersson’s calls.
“What?” immediately asked Andersson.
Silence. Both from Greensmith, and the Puma Rally1 which was being guided into a layby on the gravel road.
Greensmith stopped. He sighed, and was in no hurry to get out the car. This was clearly something very terminal.
He undid the hood pins and opened it up, inspecting the engine bay. Four seconds after the hood had been opened, it had been slammed shut again.
Gloves pulled off, phone released from the door pocket. Rally over.
But Greensmith’s day? Turns out that had only just got started.
“I did a fair bit of exercise yesterday because I ran three kilometers back to the start of the stage to get phone coverage to speak to the team,” Greensmith told DirtFish on Sunday.
“Then they said they wanted the data, so I had to go back to the start of the stage, then back again, and it was another two kilometers from where I was being picked up from, so I did about 10km of running.
“So it’s fair to say my feet are covered in blisters. I’m glad this rally is over!
“But really happy with my performance, to be honest.”
And Greensmith had every right to be. The end result may have gone begging yet again, but after an off-beat and puzzling run of performances, Greensmith was right there on the Acropolis.
OK, the speed wasn’t as strong as team-mates Sébastien Loeb or Pierre-Louis Loubet, but an annoying overshoot at a hairpin aside – where Greensmith lambasted himself for not listening to his own advice, having the correct information in his pacenotes that the corner crept up quickly – he stayed out of trouble too.
“On the Friday morning we started a bit slow but then straight away in the afternoon the speed was there,” Greensmith said.
“Saturday, for the road position, I thought we did a fantastic job to be putting in top-three times throughout the morning and then today, obviously not everyone’s pushing flat out but still, two top-four times with my road position, especially on the powerstage and the cleaning of the ruts, to get two powerstage points is great.
“For sure this weekend at minimum we deserved fourth. I think we genuinely had the pace to challenge Dani.”
And that engine problem?
“It’s easier when everyone has the same problem but we all seem to have had different ones,” Greensmith said, referencing the broken alternator that sidelined Loeb and faulty hybrid unit, from external supplier Compact Dynamics, that stopped Jourdan Serderidis’ car.
“That’s not always what you want to see. But the team is made up of great mechanics and engineers, so I’m sure that they’ll sort it out and we’ll get the result we deserve.”