The Junior ERC field at Rally Hungary is taking part in a special programme courtesy of Fit4Race – the young drivers have received and will continue to receive physical and mental support and performance coaching throughout the weekend.

The Fit4Race programme was created 15 years ago by Zsolt Matics, and since then the motorsport-specific training method has been a success not only at home but also internationally. WTCR champion (Norbert Michelisz), Formula 1 driver (Roberto Merhi) and Olympic silver medallist sailor (Zsombor Berecz) have all trained under this programme.

The team works with Mixi Csomós and Patrik Herczig from the current Hungarian rally field – Mixi, of course, has a dedicated performance coach for this race, too.

But let’s see what kind of support the junior ERC drivers get.

“The idea was to help, not only with on-site advice or warm-up, but also with long-term advice and education,” said Zsolt Matics, “In the middle of the week, thanks to the promoter, there was a mandatory briefing with all junior ERC drivers attending, where we told them, if they needed any physical or mental help or advice during the weekend, we would be waiting for them with rally-specific exercises and methods. They were very open to it and four or five pairs of drivers come back to us every day.”

The morning warm-up itself is very interesting, as experts of Fit4Race focus on what is most important in rallying, combining visual stimulation with auditory stimulation – and they involve the co-drivers in the process. They use seemingly simple exercises to switch the ‘rally racing brain’ even before the pairs get into the car.

Sometimes they ask for help because a muscle is tight, or the driver cannot concentrate properly, or just they think too much.

“One driver came to us saying that he couldn’t sleep at night, we gave him three or four tips on what to do, when he came back, he confirmed they helped, and then asked for our opinion on something else,” continued Zsolt Matics. We noticed that one of the drivers wanted to do too many things too quickly, and having checked it with the co-driver that this was the case, we adjusted the warm-up in order to reduce this “symptom”. In rallying, the most important thing is to be in the moment, neither ahead nor behind, because that’s simply what you need to avoid making mistakes. Once you reach that status, something really tough has to happen to take you out of the flow.”

This work is obviously of real value in the long term, that’s when it really makes sense, so, the founder of Fit4Race intends to take the programme further and possibly extend it to experienced racers, who of course, need a different kind of tailor-made support.