Anglo Irish Rally Duo complete ..

 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.