Rally Co-Driver

Michael Orr has competed in more than 130 World Championship rallies during his 25 years as a co-driver, and he’s still going strong. His most recent win was the 2014 round of the European Rally Championship in Cyprus.

Originally from Northern Ireland, Michael has a special connection with the Circuit of Ireland rally: a fond childhood memory is trekking across muddy fields with his dad, trying to catch glimpses of the cars speeding past hedges. He has competed in the Circuit “more times than he can remember”.

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT TAKING ON THIS CHALLENGE?
When I was asked, I was halfway through watching a series of Luther! So that was strange. I’m used to the danger element in my job, but I’m also used to being strapped in next to someone I
know really well.

WHAT SKILLS DID IDRIS HAVE WHEN YOU MET HIM?
He was completely new to the sport and had never driven on a proper rally stage. I expected it to be really difficult for him and that
was confirmed when we first drove.

 

HOW DID IDRIS RESPOND TO THE CHALLENGE?
I don’t think he realised initially what a big challenge he’d taken on and I don’t think he’d truly taken on board what the sport was really all about. He was a bit of a boy racer.

WHAT ARE HIS STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES?
I was impressed with the way he took to the co-driver’s pace notes. He asked lots of questions. Technically, he started off braking too late then being too aggressive with the braking.

WERE THERE ANY MISHAPS OR ACCIDENTS?
Yes. We crashed during a practice drive. It was a fast approach and there was a small crest before a junction so you couldn’t see where you were going. He got a bit confused, braked a little late, and there
was a lot of gravel on the road so the car locked up. We got the car repaired, had a couple of good drives. But then we made a small mistake on a very narrow road. We touched the grass and spun the car into a hedge.

DID YOUR MENTORING INVOLVE PSYCHOLOGICAL
HELP AS WELL AS TECHNICAL HELP?
I hope so, that’s all part of the job. You’re a shoulder to cry on! We got on well and there was a relaxed atmosphere in the car.

COULD IDRIS TAKE UP THE SPORT COMPETITIVELY?
If he could commit to five years of his life, then yes! He’ll do more. I think in his mind there might be unfinished business where he might want to correct some mistakes.