Mikkelsen on Fifth Gear Highlights by Vicki Butler-Henderson

Last night I violently vomited down the side of a shiny new Skoda Fabia vRS - at speed and while sitting next to one of the world's most beautiful men.

It was not my best evening. Or indeed my best look, but my competitive edge urged him not to pull over and pamper to my weak stomach.

At the helm was 22-year-old Andreas Mikkelsen, an indecently talented rally driver who holds the Intercontinental Rally title as well being a future World Rally Champion for sure.

We'd been blasting down a single track lane with such energy I was having a second look at my supper, and we still had 40 miles to go in our inaugural road rally.

In a bizarre nod of gratitude, it's thanks to British buses that you and I can compete against the clock in road rallies. Back in the swinging 60s a road traffic act declared racing on the highway illegal, but some bright spark worked out that buses run to a time and so this rule had to be re-worked.

Some grown-ups eventually decided on a limit of 12 vehicles that could run against the clock at any one time (as no more than a dozen buses would work one route).

And then an even brighter spark with a passion for motorsport came up with what I've just done, the 12-car Navigational Rally. They are organised by local car clubs up and down the country and cost from as little as £15, making them one of the cheapest forms of motorsport on offer. And they take place at night for some extra spice.

My evening started well - in a pub. I'd joined the Loughborough Car Club for one of their monthly mid-week outings and had enjoyed some jolly banter with fellow competitors over a baked potato (with tuna and cheese).

Kick-off was from the car park at 8pm for the 60-mile round trip, during which we had to log-in to a total of eight check-points at incredibly strict times, as well as looking and noting a variety of 'proof of passage' (POP) boards to ensure we'd gone on the right route.

These were in the shape of sawn-off car registration plates protruding from grass verges and could easily be missed with a heavy right foot.

As a novice navigator, I'd been given 40-minutes beforehand with a large table, an Ordnance Survey map and all the codes, grid references and anagrams that had to be deciphered before plotting where we were going. The regular teams are given this paperwork in stages at each check-point, and the navigator has to work these out ON THE MOVE. Unbelievable.

An Enigma machine would have been more useful to me than the pencil and stencil set I'd brought, and as the 40 minutes ticked by quickly I'm afraid I resorted to the old 'dumb bird' routine and secured some professional help with our route planning.

Spirits were high inside our little Skoda Fabia vRS at the start. Andreas shot off like a scalded cat and we were going great guns for, oh, at least the first 50 metres.

"Left here," I called our first instruction.

"No," came the response from the driver's seat.

"Yes!" I insisted.

"No," Andreas said, as he slowed to look at the map and waste precious time.

"Ah, um, sorry," I whimpered as it dawned on us how limited (and limiting) my passenger-seat skills were.
Following his nose more than my directions, Andreas whipped us through the first half-dozen miles with accuracy and such determination that we overtook three cars by the first check-point.

Hurrah, we thought, but then we sat and watched them overtake us again before we could set off for the next section of the rally. It was at this point we remembered that a Navigational Rally is designed to have an average speed of 30mph and you don't win anything for leap-frogging other cars. We also realized we'd missed at least a dozen POPs, costing us precious points we could ill-afford. So with our tails tucked firmly away, we slowed our pace accordingly.

But my motion sickness had already set in thanks to looking at the map on my lap, out through the window for the POPs and constantly checking the clock. I subsequently learned that die-hard navigators don't eat until the chequered flag. Wish I'd known that sooner.

I also wish we'd been a little less speedy too, because if we'd seen all the POPs we would have finished second. As it was, we came home second to last.

Vicki Butler-Henderson with Andreas Mikkelsen

The co-drivers really are the stars on nights like this as they have an incredibly tough job. I'm sure after a few events the plotting becomes easier, but I won't ever find out because the next time I compete I'll be behind the wheel. And if Andreas wants another go he can take a sat-nav.

We'd had a giggle though, and I'd impressed the young buck enough for him to say: "I want a wife like that." Which is the best compliment I can wish for from a 22-year-old at my age.

Source: Cars.UK