“It’s almost the opposite to the old motor sport adage about not being able to win a race at the first corner but definitely being able to lose it. In rallycross you can win at the first corner!
“For me it’s not about going home with a trophy, but about deriving pleasure from doing the best job I can. I’m aware how lucky I am to be getting this chance. I want to do well, but when I step out I can relax and enjoy it. When I was cycling, a result could make or break your mood. If you went into a race, did your best and finished second or third, you’d be frustrated and would dwell on it for weeks afterwards. I’m not doing this because I’m being paid, or because I have to. It’s purely for the experience, something else to enrich my life.”
McGuinness faces a slightly steeper learning curve. “I know only what I’ve seen on TV,” he says, “so not a lot. I’m in at the deep end. I thought it was a great idea when it was first suggested, but now I’ve seen the car it’s more a case of, Oh sh*t…’ It’s a weapon. I’ve been watching a few onboard clips, trying to figure a few things out, but don’t know what to expect. I’ve done 50,000-odd miles around the Isle of Man at decent speeds, but this is all absolutely new. So long as I enjoy it and don’t embarrass myself, that’s fine, but I know it will be bloody difficult.”
His closest previous experience came four years ago, when he tested multiple BTCC champion Gordon Shedden’s Honda Civic, also at Knockhill. “I turned up thinking it would be fine,” he says, “but I was soon chatting to the data engineer, asking him how my braking compared with Gordon’s… I want to be competitive, but I’ve got to respect the car – and its owner. And I am also aware that I might well have a target on my back.