When Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Championship co-driver Carlos del Barrio arrived home from Rally México in mid-March, he found his native northern Spain already locked down and in the grip of coronavirus.
Looking around him, del Barrio saw plenty of folk in a worse situation than himself. He wanted to help, so he volunteered with the country’s civil defense force.
Del Barrio, Dani Sordo’s co-driver, said: “We have been giving out face masks, doing shopping for the elderly and spraying a mix of water and sodium hypochlorite to try and stop the spread of the virus.
“Because I live alone, I’m completely available for the community. It’s incredible, in my village every person is helping each other. We have a lot of farmers here but also a lot of old people, and the most important thing is they don’t feel alone. It helps me a lot as well for my mind, to feel that I am useful.
“As professional sportspeople, normally we must be very selfish if we want to win, but now it’s the completely the other side of the story. We must be helpful for the people and think not just about ourselves but other people.
“Though the situation here has gone from bad to worse in the past few weeks, we have started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
And when he’s done his shift, he’s happy to hit the books and go back to school.
“I made myself a routine of studying,” he said. “I love languages so I have the chance now and the time to do it. I have tried to improve my French level, which was not so fantastic a year ago, as well as Italian. I’m also working on my English.
“Of course, I would also have loved to spend time to prepare the next rally, but we don’t know what that’s going to be, so there’s not much to do. I was all ready to prepare for Sardinia when I got back from México, but we now have to wait and see what happens.”
To maintain his fitness, keen marathon runner del Barrio is pounding out the miles on a treadmill at home. And, of course, he’s staying in touch with Sordo and his fellow Hyundai Motorsport colleagues.
He added: “Every two or three days there is a WhatsApp message from Andrea [Adamo, team principal]. And there are many different chat groups within the team, with the drivers and co-drivers, with Dani of course. Otherwise I’d get bored.
“We must stay focused and keep our concentration. Whenever things get back to normal, we must be prepared to tackle whatever comes our way. To return to action as the best team in the world as we are now.
“For the fans around the world, we’ll be back – hopefully sooner rather than later. We must remain positive.”