Alasdair Lindsay is taking DirtFish Rally School’s three-day program this week, and charting his progress! Here’s his account of day two:
At DirtFish, you’re not on the stopwatch during classes. There are no podiums or trophies. But on day two of the three-day program, I felt like I’d taken a first stage win.
On day one I’d been chasing magic shadows; a silver bullet that would transform me from novice to pro at the snap of a finger. But it doesn’t work that way; I’d clocked the fundamentals on my first day and the second was about applying them with finesse – along with adding some other things to the toolkit.
It took a few goes; but with enough seat time, I’d finally found a rhythm.
First on the agenda was something which sounded cool but is intended to be genuinely useful: the Scandinavian flick – or pendulum turn, in DirtFish parlance. You need to be comfortable with big, sudden weight transfer to pull it off and, luckily, we had the skid pad free to try it out to our heart’s content.
What you’ll find with the DirtFish class process is structure; a learning point followed by runs on a proper course, putting that practical theory into reality almost immediately. So after plenty of practice attempts at the pendulum, it was time to put it into practice on The Link.
Still too many cones were being hit, even in the safe, consequence-free environment of said practice run.
“These will be trees and rocks later,” pointed out one of the instructors. “If they were, how many of you would have finished the rally?” was the follow-up question.
Not me. I’d have to sharpen up in the afternoon; focus on linking sequential corners together followed by Grid, the most technical course yet.
I plowed hard into some corners and understeered like a boat, failing to hit my marks from overdriving on the fiddly stuff.
But luckily there’s plenty of seat time. I had enough runs to try, try and try again; some wise words and repeated encouragement from Kip Tischer in the other seat meant I’d eventually cracked the code.
On my final run of the second day, I’d finally conquered my own mistakes and won over them. Some consistency had arrived.
It was just as well, though: a tough final day awaits. Before every run of the course until now a demo from an instructor preceded each student’s turn at the wheel. On the final day, it’s straight in the car and go on new tracks.
You don’t need a stopwatch when you’re simulating the real feeling of waking up in the morning, clocking in at opening time control and getting on it from the start.