Wild ride: what it's like to be a rally co-driver
IT'S ALWAYS hard getting up at the sound of an alarm early in the morning.
But when that sound is a race-tuned motor controlled by the current Australian Rally Championship leader Harry Bates, it is something entirely different.
The growl as the Toyota idled at the start line was like a wild beast waiting to pounce.
What followed as Bates planted his foot down on the throttle was indescribable.
From idly chatting away, I instantly fell silent as the speedo figures rocketed and a plume of dust billowed from behind.
The acceleration and noise was phenomenal as Bates hurtled over loose gravel and sand - surfaces a car should not be able to controlled on at those speeds.
Huge gum trees loomed large as Bates flicked the car around the track mere centimetres from the trunks.
After the initial heart-in-mouth start, I finally exhaled as the limits of my breath holding limit came to an end.
But the silence in the car continued. How a co-driver can read the driver notes at that speed, I have no idea.
Just as I was coming to terms with what was happening and felt Bates knew what he was doing, a jump appeared.
The ground disappeared, leaving me wondering where we'd end up, before returning with a spine-jarring thud.
After two laps, Bates piped 'You still there, mate?' My reply a less than assured, 'Yes.'