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IRC 2020 Round 1 Review

The southern peninsula rally of Iceland, or Suðurnesjarallið was held on the 6th of June as the opening round of the 2020 Icelandic rally championship. It was a great relief to hear that the event was not to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation, but obvious measures had to be taken so the rally could be held as safely as possible.

The whole race went really well and there were no issues to speak of from the organisers, they all did a fantastic job and delivered a short but exciting and demanding rally. It was compiled from a total of 10 stages or 128 competitive kilometres, through rough terrain as well as smooth asphalt.

Right from the opening stage we were right on the pace, the Nikkel stage was very rough and had everyone on tipping on their toes through that one but in the second and third stage we managed to take the quickest times and build a small lead of 13 seconds before a loop the Djúpavatn stage driven 3 times consecutively. These stages offered a lot of high speed and grip, but were incredibly demanding of the car as well as the drivers. After the first pass we were overtaken by Baldur Hlöðversson and Heimir Snær Jónsson in their Subaru who frankly blew everyone away with their pace on stage 4. I do admit I was pushing, but perhaps I was just pushing to hard and overdriving instead of taking a more steady approach. On the next pass we kept up the speed but tried to relax the driving a bit, but only a few kilometres into the stage we saw Baldur and Heimir on the side of the road changing a punctured tyre and loosing a lot of time. We knew that we couldn’t slow down at all because Skafti and Sigurjón were showing a lot of speed on these long stages. Baldur and Heimir lost a lot of time and dropped to 4thin the standings were they would finish. Earlier in the rally we had managed to build a sizable lead over Skafti and Sigurjón underlining the importance of our early morning push, so for the remainder of the race we could manage the gap and finish where we wanted, in 1st.

But the rest of the rally didn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped, after the last run through Djúpavatn we came out of the stage with the car in a sorry state. This rally will be remembered by me and my team as a very rough one, the stages were so rough but at the same time they also offered a lot of grip so it was wearing on the tyres and the competition was incredibly stiff as well.

I was very fortunate to have an excellent team of mechanics behind me to fix the car and to allow me to continue on pushing. We lost our inner wheel arches and then the control arms worked themselves loose. The biggest setback however, was the rear shock absorbers that, like the front ones the year before, blew near the end of stage 6, and robbed us of a potential stage win.

The service crew reacted brilliantly once we cleared the stage and replaced the broken DMS dampers with original Evo ones, and seeing that the following stages were not as rough and mercifully short, so with a carefull mindset we set off to complete the final 4 stages, they were however not without some drama. On the 8thstage (Patterson), we blew another damper and also knocked one of the rear control arms loose resulting in the car going all over the place. Despite all this we finished the rally in first place with a confortable lead over second place. A nice bonus at the end was that, despite our mechanical failures we managed to get the second fastest time on the power stage bagging extra 2 points for the championship.

I am incredibly gratefully to all the mechanics as well as my supporters, Poulsen, Domino’s Pizza, Merking, Brauð&Co and GT Akademian.

We are looking forward to the next round that will be held in Hólmavík on the 27thof June, time for preparation is minimal but we are well on our way to making the car race ready. The only remaining issue is how we are going to replace the DMS dampers because they are obviously not built for Icelandic roads. Hopefully we can arrive with something competitive because we are going to need it if the level of competition is going to be the same as last time.

Here is a link to all the footage from us in the last rally, recorded by the local motorsport TV program.

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