Another chapter in the books – Sheetal and I completed Advanced Rally school with DirtFish this week!
Had a blast throwing the cars into slides, tackling technical hairpins, and pulling on the handbrake even when things didn’t go as planned 😉
Let’s see how it all played out.
Table of contents
- Event overview
- 3 days of learning and fun
- Video (coming soon!)
- Professional photos
- Socials and links
- Closing thoughts
This was our 2nd annual rally class (I hope we can keep this tradition going! 😄), a follow-up to the first class we took with DirtFish last year. We were both looking forward to it, and planned time off from work way ahead to make sure we get sufficient time to rest both before as well as after the intense 3-day long program.
Before I dive into details below, I’d like to set the tone from the start: it was amazing.
Lost of seat time, challenging courses, great instructors who create a safe atmosphere to push the cars and challenge ourselves while learning, all with smiles and laughter through-out.
We left after 3 days feeling that we were able to conquer something that just couple of years ago would feel out of reach.
Alright, keep on reading to see what we learned, check out some cool photos we took in the process, and maybe even watch some videos – and if you feel like trying it all by yourself, head on to https://drive.dirtfish.com/drive/ and be ready to kick-start a new passion for Rally!
Be sure to also check out my article from last year, sharing the experiences from our first class (beginner). It also includes some helpful tips on how to prepare for your event. Here it is:
3 days of learning and fun
I still remember from the 1st day of 3-day beginner program we took last year, how intimidating everything felt as we were watching the first demonstration of braking into a turn on gravel… 🙂 Everything felt like home this time, with equally high levels of excitement, but much less feeling of intimidation and doubts whether we can pull it off. And yet it all went by equally fast! Time flies when you’re having fun…
Cars, students and instructors
The class is divided into 2 groups, 5 drivers each, to help streamline the driving time while providing time for feedback, observation and rest in between. Both group do same exercises, drive on same courses, and get same amount of seat time. The only difference is, group #2 is, well, the second one to go, so there may be a benefit of having to watch group 1 do their runs first 😉
If you’re attending the school with someone, you may also want to consider ahead of time whether you want to be in same group (this way you share the “downtime” for when the other group is on the track), or in opposite groups (e.g. to take photos and videos of each other, but keep in mind you won’t see each other much through the day outside of quick driver swaps and a shared lunch break).
Both Sheetal and I were in Group 2.
DirtFish offers both AWD and RWD courses. We’re big fans of deep slides with RWD, so this is the one we chose.
Once you’re assigned a car, ideally you’d be in the same one for all 3 days, however – you may be assigned another vehicle, if the previous one needs any work. There may be some differences (seating position/adjustments available, clutch feel, etc.) but a good driver needs to be adaptable!
Bogdan was driving #9 on the first day, #8 on second, and then back to #9.
Sheetal started in #6 in the morning of the first day, switched to #4 after lunch, returned to #6 on second day, and then moved to #10 on third day.
Above numbers will come in handy when browsing photos 😉
I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to our wonderful instructors. They’re all professional rally drivers with lots of varied experience, provide personalized feedback and are full of positive energy while sharing the passion for rally with us!
Mitch, Jack, Eric, Kip, Geoff, Sam, Adam, Brenton – thank you for making it such an amazing and memorable experience 🙏
And extra kudos for classroom and bus duty: Eric, Sam, Geoff, Jack and Mitch 🙂
Closer look at day 1, 2 and 3
The program includes just a bit of classroom time (don’t worry, you won’t be bored!), a variety of targeted exercises and lots of seat time on courses with growing complexity over the days. This is the Advanced program, and you’re encouraged to experiment. You now have the tools, put them to use, see what works and when, and consistently refine.
Here’s a high-level overview of what you’ll learn and work on:
- Day 1:
- Reminder on basics: lift-turn-brake, high-speed braking (and why it’s no longer referred to as “trail braking” in rally)
- Pendulum: initiated with braking, then with throttle,
- Slalom: refining the above at higher speeds
- Exercise with linked corners
- Afternoon course: The Link (Boneyard + Slalom)
- Day 2:
- Downshifting: before turn, after turn, with both left- and right-foot braking
- Morning course: The Grid Long (incl. surface changes)
- Handbrake exercise
- Afternoon course: The Grid Advanced
- Day 3:
- First course: The Link Advanced
- Second course: The Wedge Long Reversed
- Afternoon course: Mill Run Advanced (no demo lap, but with pace notes)
Each day is full of fun and learning. We get to work with different instructor each morning and each afternoon, with instructors also switching for classroom and bus driving duty.
In my opinion, this is a great formula – we get to learn and get feedback from a lot of instructors, giving us a chance to learn from different driving styles, and reflect on a number of observations. And it’s great to chat with everyone and learn about each other more – they’re all very experienced, have great stories and tips to share.
Thank you to instructors giving us demo laps, while providing insightful commentary. It really helps to see the course driven by professionals (even if still at 7/10, for safety reasons 🙂) as it provides opportunity to see what the car is capable of, what road surface allows for, how to position the car, what strategies work well in certain conditions (incl. personal preferences, e.g. pendulum vs handbrake into some hairpins).
Oh, and it’s just so much fun to see it all from inside the car!
The Grid Long with Sam
The Grid Advanced with Eric
The Wedge Long Reversed with Brenton
Nice driving, right? 🏎️🏁
Now, if you’d like to see how I did, check out the next section (video coming soon!).
We recorded our best runs, and took lots of photos and videos while watching drivers in the other group shred the course – I’m still working on editing it all, so please check back soon!
As always, DirtFish provides professional photos showing our shenanigans in their full glory, to help those extraordinary memories last!
Let’s start with portraits in front of the car 😉
And few more snaps from my phone 🙂
Socials and links
To learn more about everything DirtFish offers, check out their page:
See my story on Instagram:
And a post on Facebook:
We received certificates at the end of 3rd day – fun little celebration in the class, in recognition of all that we’ve learned:
Every time we visit, we sign the wall to document our adventure – fun tradition:
If you visit DirtFish, see if you can spot any of our signatures – nicely decorated by Sheetal! 😉
Walking through the hall with fire suits from lots of famous drivers:
And if you know me, you know how much I adore parrots and all birds… so of course I snapped a photo like that seeing a hummingbird feeder on the course 😉
Can’t wait to be back!
And have you seen my previous post, from the first class we took with DirtFish last year?