by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Image via Jason Swoboda

The sport of rally requires both driver and co-driver to have full faith and complete trust in one another to perform their respective roles to the best of their ability. The top Rally America National Championship teams feature crews so in tune with one another that they can probably finish each other’s sentences.

Our latest edition of In the Cockpit features the River City Rally team of driver Michael Hooper and co-driver Claudia Barbera-Pullen. See just how well they know one another as they talk about various aspects of the sport and each event:

Who calls the shots between the two of you during a race weekend?

Michael: Mechanical… me. Everything else… her.
Claudia: Mechanically, definitely the driver makes the call. I make calls with schedule, logistics, all the way to how much fuel we need, to when to put the lights on the car, when we have time to eat, etc.

Which one of you fell in love with rallying first?

Michael: Me!
Claudia: Not sure… I am older than Hooper, so I am assuming it was I who fell involved with rallying from the spectator side first. However, Hooper had being racing in rallies for about eight years before I sat in my first silly seat!

If you two swapped seats, who would adapt better to the other’s job?

Michael: No comment!
Claudia: I have thought about this a lot... I am not sure I'd be good when it comes to "just being a driver.” I know too much about co-driving and what takes to do the co-driving job, so I will be a very picky driver. I need to be co-driving for myself! LOL
Hoop is your typical driver. He has mad skills behind the wheel, but he likes to be told what, when, and where to do it while racing! We have a very good relationship. I trust his skills and he trusts mine!

Who enjoys doing recce more before an event?

Michael: I think me.
Claudia: NOBODY!!!!! However, it is very important to do recce. There is where we find speed and ways to win the rally!!! I always say that we can win a rally with a good recce.

Who celebrates more after the finish of an event?

Michael: Definitely Claudia!
Claudia: DEFINITELY me!!!! Hooper hates the champagne spray. If it was up to him, we would totally skip it! I think the celebration at the end of a rally with the team and especially the fans is also a way to share and make the sport more popular in the US.