My ERC Barum Czech Rally Zlín. By Catie Munnings
Catie Munnings hit back from her huge accident in Poland to finish her Barum Czech Rally Zlín debut last week. In the process the 19-year-old Briton took points in both the FIA ERC Junior Under 27 Championship and ERC Ladies’ Trophy after a battling performance alongside co-driver Anne Katherina Stein.
Tough start on the streets
It was a tough start for Munnings when she picked up a stage maximum after stopping to change a broken wheel on the Zlín street stage: “I was consciously taking it steady. They'd warned us about some oil on a couple of corners, we'd passed those but then the car just understeered on a narrow low-speed corner and we hit the kerb which smashed the wheel. I don't know if it was oil or I just misjudged it. Normally Anne and I can change a wheel in around 1.5 minutes but we couldn't get the jack in because the car was sitting too low. We lost so much time, it was pretty devastating.”
Although obviously at a low point, and with little chance of fighting for the top places in class, the bad luck continued for Munnings on stage four. “We were coming downhill on a fast, narrow section towards a tight left, the brake pedal went straight to floor. I have no idea how we got away with that I just rammed it down a couple of gears and threw it into the corner on the handbrake. Luckily there was a bit of grass before the trees so we had room. We got close enough to the trees for it to smash the door mirror on Anne's side. Fortunately, we were going into service after that stage so I was able to get it back there using just the handbrake. It was a big moment.
Stein added: “I looked up as Catie shouted and thought this is going to be big. No idea how she kept it on the road, her reactions have always been fast but she saved us there for sure. It's so rough out there, stones everywhere, we must have hit something in the road which broke the brakes, we lost some time but lucky we had service afterwards.”
Bringing it home
After claiming a handful of stage wins in class, the focus was on getting to the finish. “We decided we'd won a couple of stages while we were taking it steady so we had nothing to prove and should take old tyres for Sunday because we have to seriously think about budget and we could gain nothing from pushing harder, we cruised round the first three but by the midday service the tyres were finished. We are so pleased to finish the rally on a positive. I'm so happy with third place after the start we had. Even trying to be cautious, Sunday’s stages are without doubt the craziest thing I've done in my life! This has been one tough rally but I've probably learned more here than on any rally before. Huge thanks to Peugeot and to Saintéloc who made it all happen, we are stronger for this experience and they made it possible.”
When (hopefully) in Rome…
We are really looking forward to the next round in Rome in two weeks, it's a new rally for the ERC and I think it will be a big highlight of the championship this year. Looking at some clips of the rally we think it will suit us and we can be very competitive there. At the moment we don't have the full budget for it but we are working hard towards it and hoping we can get something sorted in time.”