Recalls Markus Lattner, Rally racing was an interest that he was exposed to from his earliest memories. Lattner’s father was actively involved in the Austrian Rally scene thru his business and supported many upstart drivers, some of whom made it many times to national champions. Markus Lattner helped with the technical aspect of the sport, supporting the building and maintenance and service of the cars. In fact, Markus Lattner’s brother still runs a business building and supporting Rally cars and drivers/teams.
In the opinion of Markus Lattner, this is the best and truest motor sport, as it stays true to the earliest beginnings of motor sport and racing like the Mille Miglia race in Italy. Regular cars race on regular road, explains Markus Lattner. Rally racing also involves the cooperation of a driver and co-pilot who tells the driver where the road leads next and how fast he can go. There are many categories of cars from almost unchanged street ready cars to heavily tuned streetcars, adds Markus Lattner.
Markus Lattner used to ride with some of the best drivers as a kid and he recalls it being an extremely exhilarating experience. Markus Lattner says that rally racing requires a lot from the driver; they have to be in top physical condition, their reflexes and motor skills have to be fast and accurate, and they have to be in tune with the co driver and trust him completely. They also have to have fantastic support people and systems. Needless to say, as a young boy Markus Lattner wanted to become a race driver himself.
Most of the time, however, Markus Lattner was part of the support group that built the cars, repaired them and supported them during the events. Markus Lattner also learned a lot about ‘lean’ in that environment where the classic ‘pit stop’ is actually used in the lean manufacturing term for SMED ‘single minute exchange of dies’ or ‘quick change over.’
Being able to work in these conditions, says Markus Lattner, means rally mechanics are some of the top mechanics in the world and capable of extraordinary creativity and speed. Working under extreme pressure, a gearbox can be swapped out in only 10 minutes. In fact, points out Markus Lattner, rally mechanics work automotive miracles. Once a car leaves the service park, repairs or adjustments can still be made but only by the driver and co-driver, but only using tools and spare parts carried in the car.
Acknowledging that there is and has been big controversies around the sport especially from environmentalists, which Markus Lattner considers himself to be, Lattner says that this sport has brought about many advances in car safety, technologies and is one of the best testing grounds for manufacturers. These are the reasons why Markus Lattner still possesses a passion for the sport.