Samantha Gray ready for the South Canterbury challenge, with her eyes set on the New Zealand Rally Championship
Samantha Gray revels in the adrenaline rush of mud, gravel and the speed of auto rallies.
With South Canterbury hosting the third round of the New Zealand Rally Championship on June 19, many local eyes will be on the Timaru-born co-driver who aims to pursue a dream race in the New Zealand Rally Championship.
Co-driver Gray and driver Ari Pettigrew, driving a BMW 318Ti, lead the two-wheel drive sections and his co-drivers of the championship with 72 points. In the general championship, led by Hayden Paddon, bred by Geraldine, the two are tied for sixth, Gray being the first 2WD co-driver and sixth overall.
Gray lives life off the edge as she braves the mud, gravel, heat and speed to find her inner calling to come together.
Gray credits his parents Steve Gray and Sonya Gray, who met by rallying together for generating interest in his debut.
âMy parents were involved in rallying and I watched them as a spectator and I gradually developed an interest in it. This is how the rally happened to me. ”
She began her professional journey as a navigator about six years ago and has never regretted her meteoric rise from local events to national and international rallies.
Gray, with around 45 professional rallies to his name, says it is strong organizational skills, precise timing and steadfast determination that make a top-level co-driver.
âWhen I’m in the car, my main role is to call the driver and give him all the details. A day before the event the pilot and I assess the track and maybe do a few runs and I document all the descriptions.
Gray also invests time doing her homework in the evenings while she translates the shorthand and organizes rhythm notes based on descriptions given by the conductor.
With time being an integral part of every minute and second being factored in, Gray’s role also involves time management.
âI do the timing on time cards. Even if we are a minute late, we are heavily penalized. I keep track of every minute. I also have to make sure that the driver is where he needs to be at some point during a rally â.
âWe try to give them all the information, monitor the time and read the pace notes and descriptions, so the driver can fully concentrate on driving. “
Depending on the intensity of the sport, Gray emphasizes the importance for a co-driver to be in good shape as it involves working on the car, changing the tires, etc.
âFitness is a huge thing in car rallying. This sport involves a high temperature environment and wearing three-layer woolen gear. It is therefore important to be in good shape and to train to face this kind of heat. In general, drivers have good arm strength and are in good shape.
Besides general fitness, Gray also focuses on core and back strength as she normally has her head and neck down during twists, bumps and turns as she is engrossed in reading descriptions. to the driver.
âCore, back and hip strength is essential for surviving crashes, so I can resist and don’t get injured. “
Gray’s preparations for an event can begin a month before race day.
âOnce the race information is released, the planning process begins. My driver and I send the registration forms, work on the car and also plan travel dates and book accommodation and flights. A co-driver should go back and refer to all the notes, if he has already completed certain stages of the rally and organize the rhythm notes for the upcoming rally.
With several awards to her credit, Gray’s journey as a rally co-driver peaked when she won the historic 2WD Class 4 Co-pilot Championship in 2018.
âIt is very difficult to choose a favorite moment in my career. Each rally has been memorable in one way or another. But winning the co-drivers championship in 2018, doing a few overseas rallies in Australia are some of my special moments. “
Gray intends to be successful in her career, but for now she has her eyes set on the NZ 2WD Championship.
Gray was keen to attend a few overseas gatherings, but with the restrictions and lockdowns of Covid-19, she had to be content with domestic gatherings.
âI wanted to participate in rallies abroad, but now with COVID-19 things are different. With two weeks of quarantine, it’s too hard. So from now on, my focus is on winning the 2WD NZ Rally Championship.