Who says rally or rally-raid says drivers and co-drivers! And it is undeniable that behind the exceptional drivers are always a co-driver just as exceptional.
When we think of motor racing, we tend to go straight to Formula 1! Despite the fact that its reputation has been declining in recent years, it still remains the discipline queen. However, if Endurance or Formula E also occupy the terrain level circuit, we should not forget the rally. In France, it is surely a little less the case than elsewhere because after the 9 titles of world champion Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier now holds the top of the pavement with 5 titles. If the talent of these two exceptional drivers is undeniable, their respective victories have highlighted the importance of their co-drivers, Daniel Elena for Loeb and Julien Ingrassia for Ogier. Thus, today, it is co-piloting that we will talk with Mathieu Baumel. Winner of the Dakar in 2015 with Nasser Al-Attiyah as pilot, this one evokes his discovery of the discipline, his role, his relationship with his pilot and finally the lack of media coverage they face! Mathieu, you discovered motorsport late, around 20, when you were in the south to Montpellier. What can you tell us about your first steps in the discipline?
For my part, I have always been attracted by speed and so-called extreme sports. I did a lot of skiing when I was younger and unfortunately, like many athletes under 20 who are playing at an intense level, I was injured and that prevented me from competing for skiing. And at the time, I had a friend, who was rallying, who told me, “I’m tired of seeing you depressed. While waiting to go back on skis, come and let me discover something else. And that other thing was auto sport. I then explained to him that I knew nothing about this area and that it is true that it would be nice to drive but that I did not know anything about the operation of all this. He said to me: “I’m driving, you’re standing next to you and you’re co-driver. Do not worry, I’ll teach you everything. We do some rallies like that and then you’ll get behind the wheel if you want to. ” That’s when I did a whole year of competition in 1997 and a dozen races, we won 8 in our category. Suddenly, I liked it and I thought that maybe it was not a bad idea to stay in this branch there. I put myself in the car sport when I did not know much before. I can therefore thank the first one who put my foot in the stirrup, namely Emmanuel Guigou who became a major personality of the rally in France!