KNC Groundworks Scottish Rally Championship (SRC) drivers utilised the experience of 1999 British Rally champion Tapio Laukkanen last week over two tremendously productive tuition days.
SRC John Horton Star Driver Award winner Max Redpath, from Duns, and SRC Junior champion Jude MacDonald were among those to receive tuition from Laukkanen, courtesy of scooping their respective prizes.
Championship sponsors Kevin Crawford (KNC Groundworks Ltd), Simon Hay (Albyn Garage Aberdeen Ltd) and Mike Moates (Moates Offshore Ltd), as well as Star Driver Award finalist Bobby Mitchell, also got the chance to work with Laukkanen.
He has experience in a multitude of rally cars including Formula 2 Kit Cars, World Rally Cars and Group N machines.
Laukkanen worked closely with each of the drivers, observing their driving technique before offering his advice on where they can improve and find the optimum set-up for their cars.
The Finn also took to the wheel himself to get a feel for the car and demonstrate its true potential.
Subaru Impreza pilot Redpath was impressed with what he learned and took the chance at the weekend to put it into practice at the Jim Clark Rally, which joins the SRC calendar in 2020.
“Tapio’s knowledge on the set-up of the car was brilliant and he was quick to let me know what needed adjusted or changed in order to squeeze the most out of the car,” said Max.
“There are a few things we need to work on going forward, from the car’s set-up to adjusting our own pace-notes to suit us better and push us further.
The Berwickshire driver added: “Big thanks to everyone who helped organise the day with Tapio, and to Tapio himself. It couldn’t have been any better.”
In the case of MacDonald, Laukkanen’s guidance totally changed the handling of his Skoda Fabia R2.
“Tapio wasn’t happy with the front end of the car, it wasn’t very stable, so we did a bit of work on that, softened it and basically almost transformed the car,” said MacDonald.
“I could drive it quite happily without having to hang on which, at times, I’ve been doing this year.
“To have somebody at that level sitting beside you, telling you you’re doing things right was a big confidence boost.
“A bit nerve-wracking initially, mind you.
“I got way more out of the day than I thought I would.
“Between the car being more comfortable to drive and me driving it better, it should hopefully allow us to go even quicker next year.”
SRC chairman Gordon Adam said: “It’s an absolute privilege to be able to offer some of our competitors the chance to learn from one of the best rally drivers in Europe over the last two decades.
“Our thanks to Tapio Laukkanen, not just for his time but for his superb commitment, and to Bill Sturrock of Scotmaps, who was a key part in making this happen.
“We look forward to next year’s tuition days already!”
The KNC Groundworks Ltd Scottish Rally Championship is supported by Royal Aero, Pirelli Motorsport, Moates Offshore Ltd, Albyn Garage Ltd, RAVENOL and Reis Motorsport Insurance.
Pictures by Beck Sport Media and John Fife.