2001 World Rally champion co-driver Robert Reid has landed on his first foreign round of the WRC for 18 months in Greece this weekend. AUTOSPORT caught up with him.
Q. What are you doing here?
Robert Reid: I'm out working with the Pirelli Star Drivers through the training company I run - ESP - with Brian Cameron. ESP has a contract with the FIA to provide driver training support to the Pirelli Star Driver programme. The company was set up last year to look at doing just this kind of programme. EPS offers support to PSD, we're not just throwing them in at the deep end, we're complimenting what they do on the stages with psychology, physiology, hydration, nutrition and other aspects that can help them get the best out of this year and going forward in their careers. We did three and a half days in Edinburgh at the start of the season, then another day in Portugal ahead of the first round, more work here and then more in Finland.
Q. What's the plan for here in Greece then?
RR: We're working on pace notes, continuing the performance evaluation work and doing some research work. We're monitoring core body temp and heart rate, hydration and attention levels.
Q. How do you do that work?
RR: We'll get the drivers to swallow a pill which constantly transmits the core body temperature to a recording device which is attached to the seats. We record this data throughout the day and overlay it with the data recorded from the heart rate monitors and how much they have drunk. We put them through some psychometric tests at the start, middle and end of the day, where we ask them to focus on a map and pick out a selection of features on a map. When we did this after 45 minutes at 40 degrees in a heat chamber in Edinburgh we saw a reduction in concentration of over 30 per cent.
Q. You've done this kind of core body temperature monitoring before, haven't you?
RR: Yes, Richard [Burns] and I did it when we were with Subaru and we found it really useful. One of the only ways of controlling the core body temperature is with hydration. One of the aspects it will show the guys is that those of them who are well hydrated will have a lower core body temperature, lower heart rate and a better result on the attention test. On an event like that, this will mean less mistakes.
Q. Last year's Rally GB aside, it's been a while since we've seen you on a WRC round. What do you think of what you've seen?
RR: It was Finland, 2007 the last time I was out, so it's good to be back. Obviously, the service park looks a little depleted. You can tell that from an entry list, which, for here, shows 45 cars or something like that. OK, this event has never been the most over-subscribed, but that figure still seems low.
I'm also surprised at how few journalists were in the pre-event press conference. Whenever Richard and I would have been in front of you guys, there were always a lot more of you.
Q. And what do you think from a British perspective? What about Matthew Wilson?
RR: I speak to Matthew reasonably regularly on the telephone, but this is the first time I've seen him on event for a while. And he's looking good, he's looking fit and on the case, he looks like a rally driver. He set a good time at shakedown and, from the sidelines, it's noticeable that it's coming together for him. He's had good performances this year.
Q. Beyond Matthew and the WRC, there's also increased British interest in the IRC...
RR: Yes, it's good to see Kris [Meeke] and now Guy [Wilks] out there. For me S2000 is the future and to see them both with manufacturers going into next weekend's Ypres Rally is really good news. They'll got through the rest of the season and on to the Rally of Scotland; it's going to be fantastic to see two home drivers fighting at the top on that event. Hopefully Kris will be in a position to win the championship on that event, which would be a great result to end the year with. Whether or not Guy can make up some time and make it into that title fight for the end of the year remains to be seen.
Q. Talking of IRC, what do you think of it?
RR: Good question. It's interesting. The rallies are unique, they go to lots of different places and the competition is there; what is it- twenty S2000 cars competing in Belgium next week. What happens longer term, who knows? When Super 2000 is the formula in the World Rally Championship, most of the manufacturers there [in IRC] would, potentially, be winning WRC rounds outright and I think they will probably go over to the world championship.