The worst part of a co-driver’s job isn’t what you’d expect

It's not the jumps, bumps or high G-forces that are the most uncomfortable part of the job according to Aaron Johnston


In fairness, it was freezing. Like literally freezing – frost on the ground chilly. Aaron Johnston knew what was coming. He knew the hard compound Pirelli on the front-left of the Toyota GR Yaris Rally was going to give him some grief in the next couple of minutes.

And so it did.

Nodding in the direction of the cold P Zero, it was impossible not to grin in Takamoto Katsuta’s direction.

“She’ll take some warming up…”

With the hint of a wink, Taka slid behind the wheel, fired the Yaris up and sent it into one of the most dramatic warm-up routines team DirtFish has ever been treated to. It was on the very limit of what sensible physics suggested possible. It was awesome.


Aaron Johnston jokes that the tire warming process is "the worst part of the job"

Katsuta loved it. Johnston less so.

Catching up with the Japanese at the end of the day, he smiled at the memory of generating heat close to the Slovenian border.

“I like it,” he grinned. “It’s fun to warm the tires. But I think for the co-drivers, it’s a nightmare. I never seen how they are moving, but once I saw some test footage from inside – the camera was facing us. His (Johnston) head is banging like crazy!

“One time before the rally, I asked him, how do you feel when I’m warming tires? Aaron said: “Ah, this is the worst part of the job!” Me? I like it!”

And so do we.

Don’t forget, the section of road the crews are weaving and warming tires on is already closed to the traffic.

Not all co-drivers dislike the process, however. FIA deputy president Robert Reid saw it as part of the routine for getting into a personal stage mode.

“Richard [Burns, Reid’s driver] would put a lot of energy into the car,” he said. “He’d work hard to warm the tires, the brakes and everything – but is also worked to bring a heightened sense of what was coming. It warmed us up as well.”