Wheeler’s Spin – April Q & A Session
We’re into the final couple of weeks before Torquay rally ace Chris Wheeler gets his British Rally Championship campaign underway in the Pirelli Carlisle Rally. As we wait for the action to begin, we caught up with Chris to ask him a few questions about his car, this year’s BRC and his future ambitions:
Sport South Devon: We know you had turbo problems with the car. What exactly were those problems and have they now been resolved?
Chris Wheeler: The problems with the turbo were only minor due to wear and tear over the life of the car; these issues have now been resolved.
SSD: How about the ‘fuel mapping’ issue? Is that something different and has that now been sorted?
CW: The fuel mapping issue is soon to be resolved, Citroen are currently working hard to solve this problem to get us back out on the stages ASAP. When they have they will download the new map onto our ECU so we can get back out Rallying.
SSD: From other interviews we understand that you are a fan of the new DS3. What is it that you love so much about this car?
CW: I love the performance of this car and also the styling of it; the car runs close to 300bhp and weighs just over 1000kg making it incredibly quick and exciting to drive. The car is full of technology and the engineering side of it makes it great to work on from a service crew point of view and a driver’s point of view too.
SSD: How does it feel to be mentioned in the same breath as class rival Top Gear’s Chris Harris? Does it add to the excitement of the season?
CW: This is great competition for me this year, it’s very exciting going up against a Top Gear presenter and a good challenge. I am looking forward to going up against him and seeing how close we are.
SSD: Have you been watching videos of Chris’s driving to get a handle on what you’re up against?
CW: Unfortunately there are no videos anywhere as yet of Chris driving but I was fortunate enough to be testing on the same day as him at the same venue not long ago, so I was able to get a rough idea of how quick we both are. I believe from what I have seen it will be a very close competition and I am sure our times will be close throughout the season.
While trying to slow fellow competitors down I got ran over by a competing car at 80mph and spent 11 weeks recovering – Chris Wheeler
SSD: What would be a decent outcome for you in the BRC this season? And what about a dream scenario?
CW: A decent outcome for me in this year’s BRC would be to put in competitive times through the season and to put some fastest times in. I plan to get to the end of each rally to learn this new car and to get to grips with a car with a lot of power. A dream scenario would be to win this year’s BRC3 category; if this was to happen then my year would be made.
SSD: Can you give us a layman’s rundown of how scoring works in the BRC competition?
CW: In the BRC, where you finish determines how many points you receive per round. 1st place scores 25 points, 2nd place 18 points and as the positions go down the points each driver gets slowly decrease.
SSD: What are your most memorable rally moments – both positive and negative?
CW: My most memorable moments in rallying would be winning awards on certain events and also claiming a total of three championship victories over the years. My most negative rally was during the Isle of Man in 2014: sadly our car got hit by another competitor on stage which broke our car’s steering. Soon after, while trying to slow fellow competitors down, I got ran over by a competing car at 80mph and spent 11 weeks recovering.
SSD: You’ve been with Yan Griffiths for a number of years now. How does the relationship between driver and co-driver evolve over that time?
CW: Over the years you pick up on what works best as a team in the car; as an example, Yan can change his tone of voice which lets me know as a driver if there is a dangerous corner coming up. He gives me notes about three to four corners ahead of where we currently are on a stage so I can line the car up for the series of turns ahead to be as quick as possible through the stage.
SSD: You’ve mentioned your WRC ambitions before. What do you need to do from here to fulfil that dream?
CW: To fulfil the dream from here will take a lot of hard work: we need to keep progressing through championships but to do this sponsorship is a huge part of this. As and when sponsors come on board we can work with them and progress in the sport to reach the World Rally Championship.
And on that note, Chris Wheeler Rallying would like to thank their current sponsors who play such a massive part in supporting the team through the BRC. They are:
- S J WHEELER
- ACCOUNT INVESTIGATIONS
- EXMOUTH VIEW HOTEL
- ROBERT LOXTON ACCOUNTANTS
- STOVER LODGE B&B
- WHEELER AUTO AIR CONDITIONING
And the new ones confirmed for this year are: