Forget going fast down a country lane in a road automobile. Forget computer games. Forget normal rally onboards. If you want to experience what being in a rally automobile is really like, this video is about as close as it gets without having to wear Nomex.
Filmed on some sort of potato by nine-time world champion co-driver Daniel Elena, your pilot is none other than Sebastien Loeb, the most successful driver in the history of rallying, and arguably the best driver in the world, period. The automobile is a Peugeot 306 Maxi, a screaming, 300hp, front-wheel drive quasi-Touring Automobile that will be familiar to most fans of the sport. In fact, the 'kit-automobile' era is something that we'll be covering in the future, but for now, just enjoy the video.
Every sensation is there, from the highly-strung 306's reluctance to start, the hollow slam of the mostly naked doors, the rattling emanating from every component that's not welded in. Unusually for a rally video, the sound comes not from the intercom's microphone, but from the camera itself, meaning every clunk and whine is captured authentically. Granted, you wouldn't usually see Loeb's Lamborghini at the side of the road during a pre-rally test, but hey, the man's earned it.
As it's a test for the upcoming Rallye du Var, we're treated to a few runs up and down the same road, including some nausea-inducing warming of tyres and brakes before the real attack starts at around five minutes in. Belts are tightened, Daniel gives the thumbs-up, and off goes the 306 in a cacophony of transmission and induction noise. Of course, Seb is as cool as a cucumber, his inputs smooth and controlled, even down to the tugs and pushes on the wood-topped gearknob (a Peugeot Sport hallmark). each of it's missing is some pixels, and the smell of petrol vapour, rubber and tortured brakes.