Hayden Paddon writes from Rally Sweden…
We are currently in Karlstad – waiting and hoping! What is the only true winter/snow rally of the year is currently lacking one key element – snow! Warmer than normal weather over the past 2 weeks has diminshed a lot of snow and today the organisers took the decision to already cancel 5 stages and postpone recce to start one day later. A big freeze is forecasted for the second half of the week that we are all hopeful for to help the rally go ahead, but it is out of everyones control and we must wait and see. We don’t nessecary need snow, we just need ice!
A lot of people have been asking why the rally can’t run as a normal gravel event if there is no snow. Firstly, the only tyres we have avaliable here are the studded tyres. Secondly, from a drivers perspective driving on a gravel road with a stud is no problem – in fact the grip can be quite good. The only issue is that the gravel tears all the studs out and when you do get to the snow patches you have zero grip – like Monte all over again.
Of course, here we have no ice crews to warn us where these sections are like Monte – but this is one of the challenges of rallying and I would be up for it. Where the problem lies for the organisers is that with soft/unfrozen roads, the road damage would be HUGE – resulting in huge road repair bills. But the biggest concern for the organisers is general safety of everyone involved. Its not an easy situation for the organisers.
As I say, either way I’m looking forward to the rally. Yesterday we had a ome day test with the new car to confirm and fine tune the settings/work we did in December. The new car is feeling amazing and a definite step up over the old car – we are yet to see just how big that step is. While the setup we have for the rally is good, the difficulty when starting with a new project and a car that is completely different means we don’t know where the limit of performance is – it could be a lot higher than where we presently are. Of course this we don’t know until we keep testing, using the car in competition and keep developing new ideas. I feel come Rally Portugal we will have a proper understanding of what does and doesn’t work with this car and be well on our way. When you think about it, one of the biggest steps we made with development with the old car was mid-season last year – 18 months after its competition debut. It certainly won’t be like that again but a good example of how we all have to patient.
This is a rally I enjoy – with generally fast roads that resemble Finland in a lot of ways. The conditions are the big question mark this year but it’s the same for everyone and we have prepared the best we can – that’s all we can do for now. Of course we are going to push for a good result and have my own goals and objectives that I want to meet – so will be focusing on that.
Looking forward to a good rally and as always will keep you up to date