A mechanical problem meant my rally was over almost before it had begun

I had plenty of hopes for my first outing on Rally Islas Canarias, but in the end, it lasted for just 11 kilometres! Unfortunately, a mechanical problem meant that my rally was over almost before it had begun, but when you are involved in motorsport, you have to accept that not everything is always under your control…

The problem started at the end of the first stage, when the engine of my car lapsed onto three cylinders. We knew we had a problem, but then on the second stage I think a piston rod broke – and that sprayed oil onto the hot exhaust, starting a fire.

Luckily my co-driver Pietro and I had the presence of mind to stop immediately and attack the fire with fire extinguishers, to try and save the car. Thankfully we succeeded, but our rally was over. It’s obviously disappointing, as it looked like a fantastic rally from what we could see in the recce and I was really looking forward to getting stuck into the stages. Also, at this stage in my career, I really needed the experience. But when these things happen, there’s no point in reflecting on it too much. It happened, it’s a pity, and there’s not much more else to say.

For the rest of the rally, I became a spectator, as I was able to get out onto the stages and watch. Some drivers don’t like to do that when they retire, because it’s too painful. But for me, it’s another opportunity to learn: albeit in a different way from the one that I would have liked!

When you’re watching from the outside, you actually learn more than you think. One of the things that’s always hardest to get right as a rally driver in these cars is the braking. But on the stage, I was able to watch closely how the others braked, and I took a few things away from that. Every day is an opportunity to learn more.

Because in the ERC Junior Under 27 Championship, you have to try and take any advantage that you can. It’s so close and so competitive, yet at the same time the feeling is just like a big family. I’m really happy to have found such a strong environment in which to learn about rallying. Between the top three of every rally there’s absolutely nothing to choose, just a few seconds. You have to bring your top game if you want to make a good impression, which is exactly the sort of challenge I was looking for.

That’s really motivating, so of course we don’t give up. Our next rally is on home territory around Rome, which is very exciting, and before then we have a test as well in our Peugeot 208 R2. So there’s plenty to look forward to…”