The WRC continues its Nordic trail
Norway will this weekend host a round of the World Rally Championship for the very first time. Based in Hamar, which is situated between Lillehammer and the capital Oslo and which previously hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, Rally Norway's slot in the calendar comes just days after the 2007 championship's second round in neighbouring Sweden. The Solberg brothers will be on home ground, while Grönholm and Loeb will be looking to continue their feud in the land of the Vikings.
The very names of the Vikings whose conquering ways imposed respect between the ninth and eleventh centuries say a great deal about this people: Erik the Red, Harald the Ruthless, Halfdan the Black, Olaf the Stout, Erik Bloodaxe, Svein Forkbeard? A thousand years on, certain sons of these awesome raiders and outstanding seafarers have become national heroes whose reputations have spread well beyond their home shores?
Today's famed Vikings -- Petter 'Hollywood' and Henning 'Clockwork Orange' -- were born in Spydeberg some thirty years ago. The former has already succeeded in conquering the world and the intentions of latter in this respect are perfectly documented. Their names are no longer synonymous with terror, but they are as hungry for victory as ever their ancestors were. This year, then, world rallying's elite will travel to the land of the Vikings for the very first time as Rally Norway takes its place alongside two other classic Scandinavian fixtures, the 'Swedish' and Rally Finland. With a total of three of the 16 rounds on its soil, Scandinavia will consequently serve as backdrop for more than 18% of the calendar. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given that home-grown drivers account for half the field of factory drivers in 2007!
Scheduled just one week after the Swedish Rally and based a mere 200km from the Karlstad-based event's wintry stages, Rally Norway also takes place on icy, snowy tracks, although their profile is very different. Hedmark County, where the '94 Lillehammer Games were held, is far more mountainous than the Swedish Värmland, and its stages are accordingly twistier, steeper and narrower than those found across the border.
These conditions promise to make even bigger demands on the tyres and studs. "Twistier stages mean more hard cornering and therefore more punishment for the studs. The choice of 'stud lengths' promises to be decisive once again," says BFGoodrich's Chief Technician Patrick Letort.
BFGoodrich's partners will have the same type of tyres as those seen in Sweden, namely the g-Force Ice and its 384 studs of a maximum length of 2cm (FIA regulations). "With two wintry rounds in as many weeks, this is a key phase of the 2007 WRC and will put the spotlight on the performance and durability of our studded tyres," adds Matthieu Bonardel, BFGoodrich's Rallies Manager.
BFGoodrich Tire News:
QUOTAS - Priority drivers have a maximum of 66 tyres of which they will be able to use a maximum of 45 (rally + shakedown). The tyre load for Rally Norway was nominated in two phases: on February 2, priority drivers had to nominate an initial 45 tyres, then the other 21 on February 12. These 21 tyres had to come from the list nominated for but not used in Sweden.
1,988 TYRES - It is the company Däckproffsen that was entrusted with studding the 1,988 BFGoodrich g- Force Ice tyres available for Sweden and Norway. A new gluing technique has been used this year to enhance the durability of the g-Force Ice tyres.
FITTERS - Hats off to the BFGoodrich staff who will have had to handle and fit some 2,500 tyres in the space of ten days in difficult weather conditions. Studded tyres are more difficult to fit because of their narrow dimension, while the studs bite easily into their cold-numbed hands!
MOUSSE - Like BFGoodrich's asphalt and gravel tyres, the g-Force Ice tyres come with a mousse insert that enables drivers to continue at rally speed even with a puncture (fairly frequent on winter events because the rims are more fragile).
BFGOODRICH PODIUM - BFGoodrich has established an award scheme for the three best-placed non-works drivers on every round of the WRC. Henning Solberg, Daniel Carlsson and Toni Gardemeister were rewarded by a number of tyres for their performance in Sweden.
THE YOUNG ONES - For Rally Norway, BFGoodrich will equip the WRC cars of youngsters Mads Ostberg, 20, from Norway, and Finn Andreas Mikkelsen, 17.
JUNIOR RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP - Norway marks the start of the 2007 JRC. BFGoodrich is a partner of this series which is aimed at young drivers. Since 2001, it has been won by two Swedes, two Frenchmen and two Spaniards. BFGoodrich has put up a total prizefund of ?50,000 for the 2007 JRC.
g-FORCE STUD - BFGoodrich has profited from the Swedish and Norway Rallies to launch a studded road car tyre on the Nordic markets: the g-Force Stud. This new tyre joins the winter range which already features the Winter G and the Winter 2 T/A.