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  • Writer's pictureMax Smart

FIA Rally Star Training Camp, and gearing up for my first ever Rally

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Attending the FIA Rally Star Training Camp held in Sardinia was an unforgettable experience that expanded my knowledge and helped build a foundation to hone my skills in various aspects of rallying.

During the camp, we were coached on crucial pacenote training, rally car engineering and the underlying physics, media training, sports science and we also got to put our skills to the test on both tarmac and gravel in the M-Sport Poland Rally3.

One of the highlights of the training camp was the pacenote training, this is a essential skill as a rally driver, as well as something that is still very new to me.

The rally car engineering and the physics behind it were fascinating for me. Learning about the intricate components and how they interact to optimize performance further deepened my appreciation for the sport. Understanding the underlying physics also showed me why drivers must do the things they do in the car.

Testing and driver coaching - I had the opportunity to drive the Rally3 on tarmac for the first time. It was my first time driving the Rally3 and first time with Lorcan at my side in a rally car, I was pleased with my comfort levels and improved hugely throughout the day. However, it was on the gravel where I truly felt at home after having a motocross background. In both these tests we had the chance to sit in with driver coaches. Alex Bengué on both days, and John Haugland joined for the gravel testing. Both coaches were great. I could feel Alex's passion, it was huge! Got on well with both coaches.

Beyond the driving aspect, the training camp focused on physical fitness and mental fitness. Waking up to physical exercises every morning and undergoing mental and physical fitness tests helped me understand the importance of maintaining peak performance both physically and mentally.

I'd say what made the entire experience truly unforgettable was the people involved. I had the opportunity to get to know my co-driver, Lorcan Moore. We built a strong bond very quickly and are both super passionate people. Additionally, the team behind the FIA Rally Star program really showed a genuine desire to build up and support us candidates, it was inspiring to see this.

Now, as I gear up for my first-ever rally, the San Marino Rally, I am excited. Lorcan and I have been preparing in Ireland, studying the stage videos, and conducting practice recces to sharpen our skills. Learning from Lorcan over the weekend has been invaluable, and I am eager to put our newfound knowledge into action.

Packed and ready, we embark on our journey to San Marino today. Tomorrow, we have a Pre-Event test with M-Sport Poland, where we will get more seat time in the Rally3 and sharpen up some skills. Thursday we have recce, it is crucial to make good pacenotes here for the rally stages. Shakedown on Friday morning will provide a final opportunity to fine-tune ourselves, leading up to our first stage on Friday evening. Saturday will be a thrilling day filled with rallying.

I am proud to represent my country, South Africa, in this remarkable opportunity. The FIA Rally Star Training Camp has not only helped me gain knowledge for the season but also allowed me to forge meaningful connections with fellow drivers and co-drivers and the dedicated team supporting us. I am grateful for this incredible experience, and I am ready to embrace the challenges that lie ahead on my rallying journey.

Let's do this!

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Jun 13, 2023

Good job, Max, well done.

Max Smart
Max Smart
Jun 13, 2023
Replying to

Thanks so much Steve 👊

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