A little less than a week before the international Rally of Reykjavik, the Evo 10 Finally arrived in our garage. Getting it through customs was the difficult bit but now that that was sorted it was time for the race prep. Me and my team spent most of our time leading up to the event going over the car and making sure it was ready for action. But the car was not the only thing arriving late, so was the co-driver, Both of my previous co-drivers were unable to join me for this rally but there was one man over in the UK who has been longing to come over to do a rally in Iceland for years. Me and George had already driven three events earlier in the year over in Wales and Scotland and in that time we were able to develop our note system a lot. We didn't have enough time to make pace notes for the whole rally, we had to be selective because of the time crunch so I decided I would recce half the stages with my mother before George arrived and we would then recce the rest. The timing was so close that wen my sisters went to pick him up at the airport they drove him straight down to sign on, It couldn't have been closer.
In my mind at least, despite the close timing, my position for the rally looked perfect. The Evo looked as good as new and I had a professional co-driver coming over from the UK, this coupled with a healthy lead in the championship put me in a comfortable mood for the race. I knew it wouldn't be easy though, I had to switch cars for the third time this year which again forced me to drive very differently yet again.
"The pros will outweigh the cons" I thought to myself and set of into the first stage with a cautious mindset, maybe a bit too conservative but it was a short stage and we set about getting up to pace on the second stage, 'Djúpavatn'.
The stage was going pretty good, I was having a lot of fun but felt I was missing a bit more aggression. Halfway through the stage however we hit a rock on the inside of the corner and punctured the wheel in the process, we were able to finish but this had cost us more than one and a half minutes to the leaders in our class. We ended the day with some runs through a spectator friendly stage before finishing the day at the service area. There was a lot of time to make up the next day but we had managed to stay in the top five overall.
The second day started out really well and on top of that I was starting to enjoy the car, the stages on the western part of the country or the 'Snæfellsnes' peninsula were absolutely stunning, very fast and flowing but very technical in places. Me as well as George were really enjoying ourselves while still trying to increase our speed stage by stage.
We were in a good mood exiting the first service of the day already having a stage win under our belt and successfully clawing some time away from the leaders in our class.
But the first stage after service would spell disaster for our rally and my championship lead. Midway through the stage all the gears suddenly disappeared. No matter what I did, the car did not have forward drive so we were not going anywhere fast. The gearbox was definitely broken and we knew very soon that we had to retire and hand in our time card.
It was truly heartbreaking to be forced to retire after not doing any big mistakes so far into the season, but that's rallying, its not merciful but I could take some consolidation in the fact that when I reported the news to the 'team boss' I could say it wasn't my fault.....this time.
Afterwards we got a tow from the organizers of the event through the rest of the stage, which was all downhill where we realized that we definitely need a longer rope. We are very grateful for the help but boy was it terrifying.
After the long drive home we decided to take it easy, we made the best of the situation and turned Georges trip into a typical tourist one. The next day we spectated the rally and I even got to play the part of a marshal, I even got a flag and everything. At the end there was even some good news, Baldur Arnar had managed to overtake Ragnar Gröndal on the last stage to win the event. These two had been fighting for the lead since day 2 but the remainder of the race had gone in my favor with Baldur winning which means that Gröndal now doesn't have as big a lead in the championship going into the final round.
As for the final round, It's a winner takes all situation between the three of us.
Baldur Hlöðvers, Ragnar Gröndal or me, who will it be? More on that in a later article.