I don’t know whether to admire, envy or pity Indonesian youngster Sean Galael, the 13-year-old who has recently won two junior rallies in a Group N Subaru Impreza.
First, the admiration. This is a kid who, when the closest most of his peers get to rally driving is a computer game, is hurling a real-life rally car along real-life special stages. When I was 13, I still used to get a reasonable kick out of skidding my BMX along a gravel path.
Secondly, there’s envy. How come I didn’t have a national rally champion for a father (Galael’s Dad was the 2006 Indonesian rally champ) and the support of Prodrive, one of the world’s most successful rally teams?
Finally, there’s pity. In a post-Hamilton world, young talent is under scrutiny from a very early age with a closer eye than ever before, as everyone tries to pick the next motorsport star before they’ve even hit puberty. Galael is going to have to grow up in a very high pressure environment, and the teenage years are hard enough without the weight of world-championship expectation on your shoulders.
If things go right for young Galael, then he could have a dazzling career ahead of him, but the price of this future shouldn’t be at the expense of an actual life. If he’s lucky, his family and mentors will realise this, because it’s not good to grow up too soon.