INSIGHT: TOYOTA RAV4 RALLY CAR
Ryan Millen’s debut season with a production-based Toyota RAV4 rally car has proved a revelation.
t was the Mendocino Rally in California;
our second event with the Toyota RAV4,”
recalls Ryan Millen. “On the third special
stage there was a long downhill section.
The brakes were fading a little and I was
scrubbing off speed by pitching it ever
so slightly sideways. Tiny inputs, almost
subconscious, but still totally committed.
“That was the moment when
everything seemed to come together.
The flow, the speed. I’m hearing the pace
notes but I’m no longer having to think
about them – I’m just doing, and it all
comes so naturally. It’s that feeling of
being totally in the moment.”
That’s what professional athletes
describe as “being in The Zone.” It’s those
transcendental moments when time
slows down and it all feels so easy.
time and upside down in a ditch.
For MIllen, both the car, a production-based 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE, and the
navigator, his fiancée Christina Fate, have
been revelations. Neither RAV4 nor Fate
had rallied before, yet each proved more
than capable when it came to crunch time.
“We tested the car for the first time in
late May and we were packed and headed
for its debut on the Idaho Rally just a couple
of weeks later,” recalls Millen. “Any new
competition car, you expect to take a few
events before you’ve dialed it in and sorted
the inevitable teething troubles, but the
RAV4 was awesome right out of the box.”
For the navigator, trust has to work
both ways – as Millen notes, “Either of us
makes a mistake and it can ruin both our
days” – and timing is everything when it
The driver has to have confidence in the
car and total trust in the navigator calling
out the pace notes – the short bursts of
information that define each corner’s
profile and speed. Get a note wrong and
it can be the difference between a fast
Words RACER staff
images Chris DeLorenzo