NEWSLETTER WINTER RALLY SCHOOL SEASON 2011/2
The winter came late, which meant we lost December, no snow and not thick enough ice on the lake.
We then started one week earlier than normal in January, from the 4th when we had Dennis Kuipers with his family for 4 days. It was practice for Dennis, and winter fun activities for the rest of the family including snow-scooter drive in the wilderness, with surprise-lunch served outside by a river. The hotel prepared a barbeque lunch complete with long tables, white tablecloths and silver service. It was the first time we arranged this, and it was a great success so we shall do it again.
We had very good conditions on the race-track and on the stages, and Dennis and his father drove a lot in the Super2000 Fiesta.
From the 9th January we ran the first 4 days course, with 5 drivers.
Victor came from Romania with his son, Paul who was driving rally cars for the first time. He had the honour of being the first and only roll of the season and with me in the co-driver seat!
Rene Snell has also been with us many times, first time 17 years ago. He brought his own Evo 6, and a friend to share the car with. Andrew Laing from Scotland was with us for the first time. This course drove on the race-track all 4 days.
The 12th we had 4 drivers from the South of Norway practising for the first round of the Norwegian Rally Championship, the Mountain Rally. With 2 Super 1600 Ford Pumas, a BMW M3 and a Volvo 240. Great to watch the M3 and Volvo on the lake with their 280 bhp engines.
Later in January we had 10 guests from Skoda UK, Andreas Mikkelsen’s sponsor. They were the winners of an after market sales competition and as Andreas was taking part in the Mountain Rally in a Skoda Fabia S2000, the guests spectated on the Rally. It couldn’t have been better as Andreas and Ola Fløene won, and the guests took part in the victory ceremony on the finishing ramp.
The day after, they sat in with Andreas on a special stage, drove dog-sledges, had snow-scooter tour, with surprise barbeque-lunch from the hotel, and went to the Alpine centre for sledging.
The day was not without drama, as Andreas went off and into a tree on the 5th run on the stage, and one of the dog-sledge drivers fell off, and the dog-sledge with 6 dogs in front ran off, and went 25 km before they were caught! We had a spare car, a R2 Fabia, so the rest of the guests did get their turns on the stage, but in a little bit slower car. They were still very impressed with Andreas driving. The young lady sitting in with Andreas when he went off, was very satisfied, and had the experience of her life. She even kept the race-suit on until dinner.
On the 3rd day they drove cars on the frozen lake race-tracks. Rally cars on one track, and normal Skoda road cars on another track.
On the last week of January, we ran a 4 days course for 5 drivers. One of the drivers, Megan Verlaque, came all the way from South Africa, and she was the driver that came from the furthest away this year. Then we had Calum MacLeod and his sons from Scotland, and Mark Donnelly and Desi Henry from Ireland. This week was the coldest of the season, between minus 20 and 30 C. Not so good for a lady from South Africa…!
Calum came with a Super 2000 MG, with hardly any heater. He could only do 3 laps before he had to come in and warm his feet and hands in the caravan.
Mark and Desi were very impressive drivers, the best we had this year, and they confirmed that with taking first and second in the first round of the British Open Rally Championship a few weeks later. Megan was a little down that she could not match their speed, but not to worry, these 2 guys are on a high level, I guess we will see a lot of great results from them in the future.
We ran another 4 days course with 5 drivers on the first week of February. 3 German gentleman drivers, and two very good drivers from Poland, Bart Siemienczuk and Michal Zlomanczuk.
In the week-end we had Maciej Oleksowicz testing and practising for the Swedish Rally in his Super 2000 Fiesta, and the following week we had VW and Skoda doing winter testing with road-cars.
Third week of February, we had a 4 days course with drivers from Holland and Norway.
The brothers Van der Heiden, Maarten and Piet, drove very well.
The last week of February we had 5 drivers on a 4 days course from Germany, Holland, Sweden and Turkey. Here Onur Surmeli was showing great promise.
Shaun Gallagher hires out rally cars to our customers, and had bought 2 Escort Mk2 rally cars with 220 BHP 16 valve engines. These cars were hired out for the first time to 2 Swedish racing drivers, Nils Fredrik Nyblaeus and Anders Latsengård. The cars functioned very well, with a lot of power , and gave the drivers a lot of enthusiasm
There are more drivers asking for Historic rear wheel drive cars, and we will have these two cars available for next year, this year was a test.
The second week of March was taken up with 1 to 1 courses. First we had racing drivers Henry Mann and Graham Wilson in for 2 days, driving the Escorts with a lot of joy and guts.
I am competing with these two drivers in Historic Racing in England, we all drive Lotus Cortinas. They improved a lot, and if they start beating us on the race-tracks now, to have them on a course was may be not such a good idea…..
The next 3 days we had Tomasz Kasperczyk on a 3 days 1 to 1 course with his co-driver Damian Syty. Tomasz is relatively new to rallying, he improved very well, and he drives a R2 Fabia in Poland. It will be interesting to see his results. He is a natural driver with very good car control.
We stopped just at the right time. The spring arrived, and we could not have driven one more day, as we got water on the top of the ice the last day. Not dangerous, as there is 50 cm thick ice underneath, but not so pleasant to drive in puddles.
We had a very good season, not very much snow, but enough to give us very good conditions on stages and on the race-track.
Some drivers brought their own rally cars, but for those who hired rally cars from Shaun Gallagher, the Peugeot 206s, and the Impreza N14s were the most popular. We also had the Lancer Evo 6 and Evo 9.
The Escort Mk2s came in near the end, worked very well, and as there is more and more interest for historic cars, we believe these cars will be popular next winter.
And who was the most promising drivers this winter?
Mark Donnelly and Desi Henry. Watch these boys, they can go far.
See you next winter.