I won’t…manifesto for strong people

This article was inspired by a T-shirt. Actually, I found my courage to write this piece after discovering the brilliant idea of treizecizero, the one dedicated to the first grand slam won by Simona Halep. At first I named it manifesto for strong women. But I found it valid for anybody who needs a kick in the butt (to move forward).

You will never be a real rally driver.

I never said “When I grow up I want to be a race driver.” I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then I wanted to be an architect. The only contact I had with the world of racing during my childhood was the video game Need for Speed – this is how I learned to recognize cars on the streets, a cool skill which gained me access to the boys gang in school. Motorsport entered my life as would any profound passion – like a personal challenge I accepted at the age of 23, strongly believing this is how I could change this world intro a better place. Through sport, through defensive driving, empowerment and positive awareness in the automotive industry.

I told you before how amazing my rookie season was, filled with lessons and a little bit of luck, a period when I learned a great deal about rallying, as well as about myself. Still, 2018 wasn’t as easy. I started this season knowing I could end it at any time, because I still don’t have even one partner who can financially support us to compete in the Romanian National Rally Championship.

I started the 2018 season on the 4th overall place in DACIA Cup at Brașov Rally, 4 seconds away from the podium. At Transilvania Rally I learned the hard way that rally week is when my PR job has to pause – I did a mistake and my focus wasn’t where it supposed to be. Arad was even worse because the car was damaged on the hardest stages of my life (Conop and Nadăș on some gruesome mud) – I fell back a few places in the standings and I finished the rally without turbo because of a broken intercooler. Bacău was the “peak” of my season – my first retirement, the first rollover and also the definitive separation from Ioana, my 2017 codriver. Exiting ProRally Team Brașov followed shortly after, when I returned “home” to Mach 1 Sport. I went to Brașov confident but with a bitter taste, wanting to get all of my spare parts into a van (thanks to my friends at MHS Truck Service) and to start a new stage of my career in Bucharest.

It was the time to sit in the valley of despair and look through tears to that appealing and inaccessible idiot hill. I wanted to give up – many times during those few months. 

I will never find sponsors. 

My racing skills won’t improve, maybe I should give up.

I will never drive like this.

I won’t, I won’t…

Harghita Rally was the shy beginning of my own rebirth from ashes, specially thanks to the codriver Cornel Șocariciu. His professional approach, calm and slightly ironic was essential for my first rally after the crash – even if I didn’t do my best driving, I slowly got back the pleasure of driving and a few traces of self confidence.

Rally Sliven was like a beautiful dream in the middle of this whole adventure and it wouldn’ve been possible without the support I got from Michelin. 

I left for my summer holiday with my mind still messed up and with a big pile of articles waiting to be written. Even though I had the photos edited and sorted in folders, I wasn’t able to write even a single word for my blog without showing the burnout phase I was going through.

2 roadtrip weeks and some considerable amounts of ouzo and tzatziki later I went back straight to gravel testing. It was a Saturday and some of my colleagues were at our rally playground with the race cars. I asked George to drive first and to show me the route. I stepped out of the car barely hiding my tears and told Tudor I wanted to go home because I couldn’t do that anymore. All in all, George convinced me to drive around a few laps as a warm-up. On Sunday I stayed 3 hours in the race car with George on my right, numb to the heat and the August sun – everything he taught me I used at Iași Rally, where together with Diana we managed a very pleasing 8/18 place in the DACIA Cup standings.

But I’m back, bitches

Just to be clear: I am not complaining and I didn’t expect this to be easy. I love what I do and I am as confident as always that I have what it takes to fight for my dream.

It’s not important how many times you fall down, but how many times you get up. This is the reason I wrote the “I won’t” decalogue which you can read every time you feel like giving up, together with a dance it out playlist.

    1. What others think about you will never matter more than what you believe about yourself.
    2. Nobody will succeed in getting you on your feet until you are ready to get up on your own.
    3. You won’t stay forever with the same people – sometimes we grow in different directions and that’s ok. Don’t force it.
    4. You won’t make it on your own – you need good people who share your values and your crazy passion.
    5. It won’t be easy, no matter if you want to become a rally driver or a medic/architect/blogger/journalist/manager/good at something. But nothing is impossible.
    6. People’s words don’t matter – their morality does, as proven by actions.
    7. You will not believe me when I tell you this list works until you get stuck and see your only option is to get up.
    8. for women: It won’t be as easy as it is for men. You have to prove things twice as hard, twice as often.
    9. For the public it doesn’t matter how many times you were close to the podium, but how many times you stepped on it. But for you the essential things are the hard work and the lessons gained until that moment.
    10. It will never be perfect. The perfect moment is here and now, with whatever you have at your disposal.

Drawing a line before Sibiu Rally, the last event of the 2018 season: I have constantly evolved on each and every special stage this season, improving my pace and having a considerable better time than the previous year (at rallies which maintained their configuration). Maybe I didn’t satisfy the public expectations, but it is easy to be a “keyboard” driver. I know a license doesn’t make you a rally driver, but neither does the public’s opinion. How many rallies do you have to race until you can say you are a rally driver? 4? A whole season? Some seem that even after a few years don’t know what fairplay means. Others, from the side, could race any car at any time and prove us some class. I am certain of one thing: a real rally driver will never tell a committed, passionate, hard working human being “he will never be a real rally driver”.