successful World Rally Championship Warm Up Session on Norway’s Ice Roads
Anglo Irish rally partnership of Tony Jardine and Sean Moriarty successfully completed their pre-Rally Norway preparations by bringing their Subaru Norway supplied Impreza to the finish line of the Sigdal Rally on Saturday (10 January). Sky Sports’ Jardine and Moriarty, a journalist with Motorsport News, are returning to the scene of one of their greatest achievements by contesting Rally Norway, the second round of the World Rally Championship next month. The media duo used this weekend’s Norwegian National Rally Championship season opener as a warm up event.
The pairing have also previously steered a ProSpeed Motorsport prepared Ford Fiesta ST to third in class in Rally Norway two years ago but decided to up the ante considerably this year by using a four-wheel drive Subaru Impreza. Although Jardine has considerable snow-driving experience it is 14 years since he drove a four-wheel drive car on ice and this prompted the extra preparation for next month’s event.
The Sigdal Rally was also the opening round of the new for 2008 Subaru Cup and the media paring were able to gauge their performance against some of the most experienced ice drivers in the world including rising start Andreas Mikkelsen who went on to finish third overall, and top Subaru driver, in the demanding six-stage event. A solid 51st overall and 25th in Group N out of over 130 starters was their reward despite battling temperatures as low as minus 13 and ice covered roads in the majestic winter wonderland of the Scandinavian country.
They survived a challenging 100km route, high in the mountains near Sigdal, where merely reaching the finish on the frozen roads would have been an achievement in itself. If that was not enough of a challenge, Jardine had to completely revise his driving style in an effort to master driving a complex four-wheel-drive turbo-charged car in the arctic conditions.
“Scandinavian drivers are experts at using their left foot to brake and slow the car while simultaneously keeping the power down with their right foot and still have the time to change gear “, said the Sky Sports presenter. Jardine continued, “This is the only way to drive a car like the Impreza on snow and ice so it was a difficult learning curve for me. Despite nearly 30 years of competition experience this was my first time trying this technique and while it was difficult at the start, by the end of the rally I was getting much better at it.”
Jardine employed the services of rally legend John Haugland, who runs the Winter Rally School near Geilo in central Norway, to help him come to terms with the new driving style. Jardine and Moriarty spent the Wednesday before the rally at the school where they were encouraged to drive the Subaru Impreza at speeds of up to 140kmh across a frozen lake under the watchful eye of Haugland who has been running the Winter Rally School for 19 years. After a day on the frozen lake Haugland encouraged them into one of the three forest stages adjacent to the school where he taught them the nuances of preparing pacenotes for an ice event. Further testing at rally speed was conducted on the stage before they drove the 200km journey to the rally host town on Thursday night.
As always, ProSpeed Motorsport, the Yorkshire based preparation experts, supported Jardine’s rally efforts. Three members of the team, headed up by boss and former Junior World Rally Championship front-runner Olly Marshall, arrived in Oslo on Thursday night to help with the event.
The crew had to work late into Friday night as they made the final adjustments to the Impreza ahead of Saturday’s rally. They worked in temperatures of minus 13 as they repaired the car after Wednesday’s arduous test session. For one member of the team, Andy Beale, it was the beginning of a six week stint in the extreme conditions.
Beale’s day job is as a development engineer with McLaren road cars and his next assignment is a secret two-week test in an exacting climate but he will return to help the ProSpeed team on a voluntary basis. He will have barely thawed out when he will be back in Norway for the World Rally Championship counter next month.
The team also acknowledge the assistance received from Subaru Norway, and its managing director Arne Berg, who helped with sourcing the rally car, provided a recce car and technical support for this event and for the forthcoming WRC rally. “The support from Arne and Subaru has been invaluable, but the welcome and the enthusiasm with which we have been greeted has been second to none”, added Jardine.