‘Pick out your top five moments from the ERC season’ they asked.
Tough question? Not really. Not at all in fact.
The 2022 season has provided a bountiful array of competition drama, genuine edge of seat action and plenty of ‘how did he get away with that?!’ gasps from the commentary booth.
I’ve probably got a list as long as my arm, so narrowing it down to five is tough. However, many of my colleagues have beaten me to the flying finish with their ‘top 5 moments’, and as I never like to show up to an event wearing the same dress as anyone else, I’m going slightly off-piste with my choices.
Stage end interviews
Stage ends are fraught with intensity. Imagine you’ve just traversed a monster stage, you’re a bag of adrenaline, pouring with sweat from every pore and a reporter slams a mic in your face and asks, ‘How was that?’ before you’ve even taken your helmet off. Could you respond in an articulate fashion? Could you be funny?!
Answer a resounding yes to the two drivers who have entertained us all season - Yoann Bonato and Simone Campedelli. Bonato is the king of witty one-liners and Campedelli’s Italian passion spills out like spaghetti as soon as you open the car door.
Bonato celebrated his birthday in the Canaries and was setting great times. When asked about his stage he said: "My brake pedal is too hot! I couldn’t push the pedal with my foot because it is too hot!". On noticing our stage end reporter had dropped his mouth open in disbelief, Bonato reassured him with a wry smile - "I’m joking!"
Cue Campedelli at the Barum Rally talking about changeable grip: "Even when you have a bit of feeling, you lost it on the braking and the car goes tat tat taaaaat, and at that moment I think we could change more underwear than tyres!"
To see Sara Fernández take a second co-drivers’ championship title was something truly special. Sara is an inspiration for many women out there, who would love to be a part of the sport they love.
She, along with many others this season, continues to show that it is not only possible to be part of the sport, but also a reality to truly succeed within it.
Within the ERC we have seen multiple female co-drivers and drivers, with Marine Pelamourgues claiming two titles this season and Giorgia Ascalone standing on the top step of the podium in Rome alongside Damiano De Tommaso. Virginia Lenzi, Tania Canton, Marine Maye, Rachele Somaschini, Cristiana Oprea…
I’ve missed out many names here, and do you know what? I’m delighted. Because just a few years ago I would struggle to come up with just a handful of names at international level, and I haven’t even included WRC here.
2022 has been a stellar year for representation in ERC. But as always, there is more work to be done, and I am looking forward to seeing that continue on in 2023.
I have loved commentating from the cosiness of the booth this year. As I’m sure you have loved watching from home/work/holiday destination - loaded with snacks with maybe a nap scheduled between stages.
Spare a thought then, for our camera crews who have had to endure wild weather this year! In Fafe it rained incessantly for three days, but seemingly that was just the appetiser for the main course in the Azores where a storm battered the island, almost blew our presenters into the harbour and proved a tad challenging for our cameramen.
Our crews are made of tough stuff, they prevailed. The image of Diego clutching onto his camera stage-side as gale force winds engulfed him will be one of my take homes of 2022!
Home events are always a bit tricky. Wealth of expectation on your shoulders, fans screaming your name - the pressure is bound to mount!
Miko Marczyk handled it brilliantly at home in Rally Poland this year. He was the poster boy of the event, his face was everywhere.
His first win at home was special. It felt like his season had been building to this moment. But it wasn’t without the added drama of a front grill filled with mud, with potential radiator damage after a mistake on the final loop. Commentating on the final stage when he only had 10 seconds in hand was edge of the seat stuff.
Pressure is for tyres, boys!
It’s been our first year of producing All Live for the ERC and the response from the crews has been overwhelming.
Every crew has welcomed our cameras and questions, even in tough moments. The enthusiasm and energy have been inspiring.
There have also been some perks. Armindo Araújo’s team plied me with Portuguese treats every time I ventured to their service park - canapé’s of Bacalao? Yes please! Alberto Battistoli’s team have THE best coffee and Simone Campedelli’s service bays are the best to shelter from the sun.
Can’t wait to do it all again next year!