Sometimes in rallying, the goal can be quite modest. For World Rally Championship crews, it’s not always about setting their name up in lights on each and every round.
So while Gus Greensmith was shooting for his maiden world championship stage win on last weekend’s Acropolis Rally, Sébastien Ogier simply sought to score more points than Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville.
And while WRC2’s Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg were desperate to beat each other as they settle their squabble for the title, rival Sean Johnston simply wanted to finish. That was all, get round without any drama.
“Going fast was not the objective at all,” he reiterated to DirtFish.
And who can blame him? After all, it had been over six months – on Arctic Rally Finland – since he and Alex Kihurani made it to the final media zone of a WRC weekend.
In Greece, they finally got there again.
“It feels so good,” enthused Johnston at that media zone last Sunday.
“It’s been a monkey on our backs for a long, long time to have not finished a rally so we are just ecstatic to be here.
“We let ourselves have a bit more fun, drove a bit more committed on the powerstage and we’re happy enough with the time.
“We were learning a lot as the conditions were very, very tricky, the grip was actually incredibly high on that last stage” Johnston added, “but we’re having a good time, we’re very, very grateful to be here at the end.”
Not every aspect of the weekend was plain-sailing though. Recce was brutal for all crews, but particularly those building up their experience levels like Johnston and Kihurani.
However the first full day was a good one for the pair, with Johnston remarking the final stage of Friday was “the most fun I’ve had in a rally car this year”.
Saturday was a little rougher as Johnston was feeling nauseous and then the brake pedal started going to the floor in the morning, but these were just a sideshow to that main objective that was finally accomplished.
And as a bonus, the speed the Citroën C3 Rally2 crew were able to display was decent too.
“It’s getting there,” Johnston said of his speed. “For sure I want to be faster than where we are now but again, our stated objective for this weekend was simply just to get to the end, so I was very conservative with my notes, not trying to get speed out of myself, really just determined to get through cleanly without issue.
“We thought actually that there would be more attrition this rally, we expected there to be more, so were a bit surprised that everybody mostly had clean rallies. But for sure the pace was acceptable, the pace was more than good enough, we know we can go faster but we’ll save that for future rallies.”
Johnston’s next opportunity to do that will be Rally Spain in just under a month.
“Unfortunately we’ll be skipping Finland which is a bummer because I love that event as well,” he said, “but we’re looking forward to getting back out there in Catalunya.”