Phil Hall’s Rally de Portugal diary

Day One (Tuesday 15th of May)

Ford Fiesta reece car – Photo courtesy of Phil Hall

Recce for Rally Portugal is particularly challenging, the stages are tight and twisty but also rough. Today we did 6 incredible stages, which will form the route for Friday and Sunday. A lot of KM covered and in the hot and dusty conditions you really have to focus.

Rally de Portugal reece day – Photo courtesy of Phil Hall

 

I get a few funny looks around the world when I turn up to Recce with a pillow ‘borrowed’ from the hotel. But on rough roads it makes all the difference to lean on as a shock absorber. Along with a lot of practice it means I can usually get all my notes down tidily on the first pass, with little touch up work later. It’s actually quite interesting to see which countries make the best Recce pillows. Keep an eye on my Twitter as I usually post the best ones.

 

Recce day Two (Wednesday 16th of May)

Similar to day 1, another challenging day of recce awaited us. Today we covered the Lousada super special as well as the monster that is Amarante. The surface in Portugal changes a lot so it is important to make sure your pacenotes take this into account.

Thursday: (17th of May)

Shakedown is a spectacular, if short, stage finishing in a huge arena full to the brim with fans. We had a good run, getting a good feeling for the car and the surface.

After a long drive to the ceremonial start, a great opportunity to meet the incredibly passionate Portuguese fans, we headed to the Super Special at Lousada. The sheer volume of rally fans crammed into this venue was a sight to behold.

 

Friday: (18th of May)

The rough northern stages bring their own challenges, we tried to keep it clean and were running comfortably inside the top ten despite a puncture. For a co-driver here in the heat and dust it is very important to keep focused. the tight twisty stages require a lot of information to be delivered often whilst the road is very rough.

Tom and Phil press on in their M-Sport built Fiesta R2

Saturday: (19th of May)

A new day and a new surface, and the iconic Amarante test. At 37km this is a big test for crews, and for us unfortunately where it all unravelled. Amarante hasn’t been kind to me, I rolled out of the Drive DMACK Fiesta Trophy event on this stage in 2016, and again today we had a small roll that put us into Rally 2.

 

Sunday: (20th of May)

Another tough day, and the attrition rate was high. A few stages were cancelled because of incidents and we focused on just being clean and getting to the finish. despite a couple of near misses, we did just that and got to the end. In fact, we managed to hold on to our top ten position, with 7th overall in the JWRC.

 

Things to take away about Rally Portugal:

– The Fans are incredible!

– The stages are a true test of physical and mental stamina

– Dust!

-Truly iconic roads

 

Many thanks again to Phil Hall for this great diary! Why not give him a follow on Twitter? @PhilHallRally

Also give Tom @williamsrally a follow too!

 

Phil Hall’s Tour de Corse Diary.

Hello rally fans. This is the first in a series of Rally Diaries that Phil Hall, Co-Driver to Tom Williams will be providing for you to enjoy. Here, Phil shows the whole week dedicated to Tour de Corse. Enjoy!

 

Reece Day One

Monday the 4th of April

Phil Hall – Photo courtesy of M-Sport.

Recce on Corsica is a challenge in itself. Writing down a seemingly endless stream of pacenotes whilst trying to navigate (including turning pages in the pacenote and road books independently) requires no small amount of multitasking and coordination. Because of the sheer number of corners, I actually use 50% more pages of paper in Corsica than a ‘normal’ rally.

Today was the first day of recce and saw us cover 3 incredible stages in the north of the island. In Sweden we found Elk, in Mexico we found goats, and today we found a herd of cows. We are certainly discovering plenty of wildlife this year.

Reece Day Two.

Tuesday the 5th of April

This is where we see the full breadth of road types on the island; from race track smooth 2 lane winding up the valleys, to slimy and gravely ‘barely there’ slivers of asphalt clinging to mountain sides.

The pinnacle of today is a 49km stage that covers everything this rally has to throw at you. And it takes so many pages of pacenotes, I started an entirely new book for this stage just to be sure I had enough.

You have to really focus on the pacenotes here, there are so many variables. It’s a great challenge.

Reece day Three.

Wednesday the 4th of April

The final day of Recce, on paper, looks simple enough. Just 2 stages. But when one of them is a Monster 55km Corsican legend, the day continues the challenging theme of the event.

72 pages; concentrating on making quality notes for nearly an hour and a half straight, reading the road and writing it down, page after page. It’s a real team effort.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 -WRC Tour de Corse (FRA) – WRC 04/04/2018 to 08/04/2018 – PHOTO : @World

An incredible stage to (almost) finish the rally, as the penultimate test of the event it will make Sunday an exciting prospect to say the least!

Friday, 6th of April – Day One of Competition.

Only two stages repeated sounds quite simple. Except this is Corsica. A 50km monster followed by a fast and flowing test was a true challenge.

Reading pace notes for 40 minutes nonstop is a work of concentration and endurance. Especially as the car is moving around so much on the twisty roads.

The conditions today saw a lot of gravel on the roads and some damp and wet patches in places that only added to the difficulty. However, we had a good clean day and I’m looking forward to tomorrow (Saturday).

Saturday, 7th of April- Day Two

Saturday was a huge day of the rally, an early start and a late finish. Though only covering two loops of 3 stages, the day was a complex challenge. We had three very different stages to contend with; the opening test was long and narrow through mountainous terrain with a lot of bridges and big drops (!), the second was more like a race track, wide and flowing with smooth and consistent tarmac, the final stage was possibly the trickiest with a lot of gravel and dirt on the road whilst still being fast.

We got a front puncture on the first stage of the day and had to change it, we are well practised at changing the wheels but we still lost quite a lot of time. The rest of the days stages went smoothly, or as smoothly as any Corsican stage can go.

Sunday, 8th of April- Day Three

Sunday had only two stages, the first being over 55km in length! We had a really good run over both stages, we had learnt a lot over the rally and were starting to get everything to work really well. Reading pacenotes flat out for nearly 40 minutes is a challenge and shows why co-drivers have to be fit as well as drivers. We had no straight longer than 150m in the whole rally, and corner after corner had to be delivered exactly on time. That’s a lot of processing power being used!

Tom Williams – Photo courtesy of M-Sport.

Corsica is one of my favourite rallies, and I can’t wait to be back next year. Our next JWRC event is WRC Portugal.

Phil Hall and Tom Williams – Junior WRC – Photo courtesy of Phil Hall

A huge thanks to Tom for a great drive, M-Sport for a great car and team, and my supporters ITSMYMOTORSPORT and the Royal Air Force.