All too often drivers become self-absorbed, focused only on themselves and their own performances.
It’s an inherent part of being a competitor. The only way you can reach the top is by being ruthless, committing yourself to a single goal.
But every now and again, drivers can be momentarily diverted, allowing themselves to appreciate the moment and the battle they’ve had with a rival.
And that was certainly the case for Gus Greensmith on last weekend’s Rally of Portugal.
These days, it’s not often that you hear a driver getting so animated by another competitor’s performance, but for Greensmith, he had nothing but respect and admiration for what Oliver Solberg achieved in the face of adversity when he was hit with a one-minute penalty for a donut on SS15.
“We kind of knew the time we would be dropping just from looking at the other stages but then I also know that Oliver’s probably one of, if not the best drivers in deep ruts that I’ve ever come across,” Greensmith explained to DirtFish.
“So, I knew that he was probably going to be able to find even more time than he had on the first pass.”
All through the final day and into Monday, the tune from Greensmith was the same. Starting with his above comment to Colin Clark about the fact Solberg is one of the best drivers he’s come across in deep ruts, Greensmith then went on to Twitter to ram the point home even more.
“Oliver and Elliott, I take my hat off to you this weekend. Amazing performance,” was the first tweet, accompanied by a great picture of Greensmith and Solberg embracing.
Then the tweet on Monday morning came. This time it read: “It hasn’t been 24 hours, and yet what I’m most proud of is the fact the Greensmith and Solberg families have always embraced as friends, not foes.
“Rallying is a beautiful sport. A combined effort, all working towards the same goal… albeit with a few hiccups & laughs on the way.”
This is not the Greensmith we’ve become accustomed to over the last few seasons, but it should very much be applauded.
Whether it comes from the fact that Greensmith wasn’t a die-hard rally fan immediately from the womb, and that it was some years later that he truly discovered his passion for rallying, or the fact that competing in WRC2 has given him a new appreciation for the moment, it isn’t known.
But it isn’t hard to imagine that the drop down to WRC2, away from a Rally1 manufacturer might have given Greensmith a new sense of appreciation for what he’s doing on a daily basis, and who he’s going up against.
So often it is easy to take these things for granted. When you’re in the trenches day and night working in the same environment, it can be easy for these top line competitors to forget just how lucky they are to be doing what they are doing, but also how great the other drivers competing alongside them really are.
Greensmith clearly had his eyes opened to that in Portugal, and I suspect many drivers do privately have the same appreciation. The difference is, Greensmith revelled in all that goodness in the public domain.
When other drivers might shy away from that, Greensmith didn’t – and that’s very commendable.
Just last weekend, voices have been rising about how WRC needs to put on a show for fans, it needs to be more interactive, to make it a championship people want to immerse themselves in.
If Solberg took the first step – even if he was penalized – by trying to put on a show from behind the wheel, then Greensmith took the second by putting across emotion and personality from outside the car.
It might be a different side to Greensmith that we haven’t seen before, but it’s one we should see more often, and not just from him.
We need to feel the emotion from so many more. Do that and the WRC will be a much better place for it.