ERC Q&A: Catie Munnings
Catie Munnings registered her first finish in this season’s FIA European Rally Championship on Rally Liepāja last weekend, the Peugeot Rally Academy driver, 21, claiming P11 in the highly-competitive ERC3 division. This is what she had to say.
How did it feel to finish your first rally of 2019?
“So relieved! A finish was the priority because we’ve not had the best start this year. It was a kind of bitter sweet feeling though as I’d like to have attacked more but at the same time we have to be sensible and driving over that finish ramp felt like a big achievement.”
You’ve done this rally before but this year was a new format with some even faster stages. Did you notice a big difference?
“The new Talsi stages are awesome, when I first came to Latvia I was shocked by the speed of the roads, but those ones are on another level. That loop was frustrating for us we as opted to run the car too soft, so it felt like we were flat out but the times were not good. Some of that was me building confidence after being out of practice but my team-mate had the same feeling and was fighting the car too, so it wasn’t until we changed the set-up for day two that I felt any stability. I learned a lot about set-up this week and I’d love to drive the car up there again on those stages with it like that. Sure we lost some time but just the experience of driving at that speed on such amazing flowing gravel roads is surreal and so addictive”
You reported a brake problem on Sunday, did you have to fix it yourself on a stage?
“No luckily it happened just as we were starting the stage before lunchtime service. A stone damaged a pipe connection, the pedal was right on the floor for that one. Then in the afternoon, the sandy stages got very rough with the rain and towards the end we bent something on the rear left which made the car wild in right bends and we lost the powersteering, so we were cruising and glad to finish.”
Overall were you happy with your performance?
“The level of competition is always high in the ERC but here it was especially so, all of our competitors are top drivers in their own country. We improved on the gap between us and them and were faster and more consistent here than last year but I’d have liked more. With the focus on reaching the finish it’s a fine line to push on roads at such high speed, there were some big crashes, it’s all too easy to do that, so overall I guess we are in a better place now to push a little harder next time.”