Travel issues force co-driver change for Olympus Rally
In an unexpected turn of events just before the start of the Olympus Rally, Oliver will be joined by 63 year old co-driving legend Denis Giraudet as a one-off substitute for Aaron Johnston after the Northern Irishman suffered with some problems flying over to the USA.
Despite trying everything, it wasn't possible to fix Aaron's travel issues and as such Aaron wasn't able to travel into the USA. Thankfully due to his father Petter's contacts across the rally world, Oliver was able to get 5x WRC rally winner Denis Giraudet onboard at the last minute to co-drive at the Olympus Rally.
"It's really sad that Aaron has had these troubles and isn't able to get here in time for the Olympus Rally, especially after we have worked hard on our pacenotes in recent tests. We have a really good chemistry and for sure it is a shame and a big challenge to do this rally without Aaron."
"However I am excited and relieved that Denis Giraudet is able to join us as a one-off for this event! He is a fantastic co-driver and person, and with so much experience and success in his career so far I could hardly have hoped for a better person to stand in at such late notice."
"It will of course be tricky at first for both of us to be at 100% seeing as we haven't worked together before, but I'm confident we will still have a good feeling and go out and get the best possible result we can!"
With 398 rallies under his belt, including 188 WRC starts across almost 40 years, co-drivers don't get much more experienced than Denis Giraudet. Working alongside drivers like Didier Auriol, Armin Schwarz, Stephane Sarrazin and more recently Evgeniy Novikov, Bryan Bouffier and Rhys Yates, Denis has been one of the most well-respected figures in rallying for decades. Due to arrive in the early hours of Thursday morning, this will be the first time Denis has competed in the USA, but with such a rich and varied career it shouldn't take long to acclimatise. Remarkably, the Oliver-Denis partnership will also break a record in top level rallying - it will be the biggest ever age difference between the driver and co-driver (46 years; Oliver is 17, Denis is 63)!
While naturally very disappointed to not be able to compete this weekend, Aaron is confident everything will be okay for the rest of the events this season, and also had some words of encouragement for Oliver, Denis and the team this weekend.
"Obviously this is devastating for me, and exceptionally difficult to accept - especially when it is totally out of my control. I have done everything in my power to resolve this issue the past few days, but it was just impossible."
"I wish Oliver and Denis the very best of luck this weekend. Denis is a legend in this sport, and I have no doubt the pair will work very well together. This is how it is now for this event, but I cannot wait to be back in the Polo R5 with Oliver in Europe next week and continue to move forward together."
The rally runs from 27-28 April in Shelton, Washington, and you'll be able to follow all the results on Oliver's social media and at http://live.americanrallyassociation.org/live.html