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Second only to Formula One, the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) is the most accessible, action packed, and closely contested form of motorsport on the globe. Such is its gruelling and unforgiving nature; few are able to reach the level of performance and lifetime dedication required to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

In 2019, the iconic Royal Air Force roundel appeared on a rally car in the WRC for the very first time with RAF Reservist Phil Hall. Serving with the RAF as both a Regular and Reserve, the Royal Air Force has supported Hall’s pursuit of becoming a World Rally Championship co-driver from the start.

Now one of the most experienced co-drivers in the country, it wasn’t long before his knowledge would be tapped into by RAF Motorsport.

“It’s always exciting for me to get involved with an RAF Motorsport project as it really is an integral part of where I started in the sport. So, when I was asked to help Cpl Pam Parsons as part of the talent development pathway, I was only too happy to assist”.

Parsons has ambitions to climb the ranks of the rallying spectrum and as part of a new RAF Motorsport initiative, Hall has been recruited in a mentoring role, helping to guide her through the all-important early stages of the co-driver journey.

“I have been so fortunate since joining the RAF Motorsports Association to not only experience some of the many elements of motorsport, but to meet and work with some incredibly talented people. I have always had a passion for motorsport so when I was afforded the opportunity by Gp Capt Watson to work with Cpl Phil Hall, I was delighted” explains Parsons.

“I’ve always wanted to give something back and being able to impart my knowledge to someone who is eager to follow a similar path to mine is fantastic” says Hall.

“I’m using my experience and access opportunities to help develop future talent in RAF Rallying, with Cpl Parsons being the first beneficiary.”

In 2021, Hall has embarked on an exciting new initiative with fellow Brit Jon Armstrong in the Junior WRC series and the duo currently are well in the mix to fight for the title as the series heads towards the final two rounds.

Parsons will be able to reap the benefits of Hall’s extensive knowledge and has already benefited from a series of one-to-one remote training sessions on background, preparation, and equipment.

It hasn’t all been confined to the classroom however, as she was also able to accompany Hall in a pre-Rally Portugal test where she experienced a top-flight ride in a rally car alongside Jon Armstrong. This early outing was key to get a feel for rallying at top speed and offered the opportunity to build on technical experience and understanding inside and outside the car.

Her hands-on experience extended to Goodwood Festival of Speed where Hall arranged a mentor session with European Rally Championship competitor Nabila Tejpar and yet another opportunity in the co-drivers seat, this time on the famous Goodwood Rally Stage.

“Phil is a great mentor, patient, inspiring and he always ensures he makes the time to call me prior to any of my events to talk me through any concerns I may have, despite how busy his own rally schedule keeps him” Parsons continues.

“Earlier this year I was privileged to meet both Jon Armstrong and Nabila Tejpar to discuss with them what it’s like to be a driver and how important that relationship needs to be between a driver and co-driver. I learnt so much from them both at these mentoring events and for this I am very thankful.”

“Experiences like this are really valuable for Pam and I know how important they are going forward” explains Hall.

“It’s not just about theory based tutoring. Getting seat time for a co-driver is no different to a driver, it really advances you in a short space of time so to be able to offer Pam several opportunities like this will be key to her progression.”

At the end of August, Parsons will take part in her first rally, co-driving for former RAF Rally Champion Sqn Ldr Phil Bruce with the support of Hall. The development programme will continue over the coming months, with aim to include her in more WRC level activities in order to build her experience.

When asked about the event, Parsons was enthusiastic; “I think it would be fair to say I am a little nervous as I am aware I am working with some elite individuals, but the support and belief that Sqn Ldr Bruce, Cpl Phil Hall and the RAFMSA have shown me so far has been so encouraging. I am very much looking forward to the event and hope that this will be a promising start to a great career in RAF Motorsport”.

“Giving something back to the organisation that laid the foundation for my career is extremely important to me” says Hall.

“Co-driving is certainly not for everyone, so to see someone from the RAF Motorsports programme wanting to follow a similar path to me really resonates. I want to help them succeed and I’m excited to assist in Pam’s development as she gains more experience in the coming months”.

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