Ability is important, of course, as well as having a competitive car, but Eugene Donnelly believes luck plays a big part in rallying, too.
Which is why he is thanking his lucky stars that he took his Skoda Fabia to the Chatsworth Rally Show last weekend.
Donnelly and the Skoda, in which he has won three international rallies this year, were part of the Irish team taking part in the Nations’ Cup competitive at the Derbyshire extravaganza but when it was fired up on Saturday morning, his McGeehan Motorsport team discovered a crankshaft sensor had failed.
It meant that Donnelly had to sit out the Saturday leg of the Nations’ Cup while a new sensor was flown in from Germany.
“It was disappointing to miss the first day but imagine how I would have felt if it had happened in parc ferme on Friday week at the start of the Donegal International,” he said. “That would have been it – I would have been out of the rally.
“I have one of the best teams in the country looking after the car but no matter how meticulous you are, these little things can catch you out. If we hadn’t taken the car to Chatsworth this sensor might have gone undetected and might have surfaced in Donegal,” added Donnelly, leader of Ireland’s Tarmac championship.
His absence from the first day of the Nations’ Cup didn’t affect the Irish team too badly and they went on to take the trophy ahead of England and Germany.
It was left to Kris Meeke and Eugene’s brother Charlie to uphold honours on the first day, holding second place behind the English team of Steve Perez, Guy Wilks and David Kynaston.
But then Eugene joined in on Sunday, setting fastest times on both stages to shoot Ireland into first place with the backing of brother Charlie in his Toyota Corolla.
Meeke was forced to drop out on Sunday with clutch failure in his Super 2000 Peugeot 207 – he did close to 40 demonstration runs in the Intercontinental Rally Challenge-leading car - but not before he had out-paced the new S2000 Proton of British champion Wilks.