Think 2300 miles, 8 countries, 4 guys, 1 week. Well actually its 1150 miles in 48hrs in a van with cossie on tow and 2 drivers. Sound like the makings of a great road trip? Well it was and to an awesome show with highly tuned RWD Sierra cosworth fresh from the McNeill Motorsport Stables! GATEBIL is where it was at. The car was finished in the young hours of Tuesday morning and the van packed ready to leave by 2am. The boat left Belfast at 730am which meant 3 hrs sleep before a long haul drive through Scotland and England. Hull was the destination for the second four ferries.
Driving in Europe was easy enough and right through to Norway we had no trouble with borders, speed limits etc. When we arrived at Rudskogen circuit it was strange to say the least as most of the cars were getting turned away, as were the caravans, this got us worried but all became clear as it was because the only people allowed to camp/park at the circuit itself were competitors. The other campsites for Joe Bloggs where up to 5 km away. We landed in and before the car was off the trailer there was a crowd around inspecting and the only question ever asked was “What horsepower?” nothing else matters to these guys. The car can look like a max power wannabe, a scrap yard reject or immaculately polished super car, but it’s the way it goes on track that counts.
There’s general agreement on HP over in Norway that, 500bhp makes a good street car, 6-700bhp is needed for the track and for respect you need 800+bhp. These Vikings are nuts. The law on speeding we were told is going over the limit by about 20mph warrants automatic jail and slightly less equals £2000 fines.
We’d arrived Thursday morning so we had time to walk about and look at the set-ups of the others as they arrived including Simon Norris and Martin Hadland amongst lots of the Norwegian and Swedish crews. Some of those invited for the extreme class weren’t over the top with motor homes or busses either, many just like ourselves with vans and tents while some in the main driver’s park had coaches or pimped busses for entertainment as well as carrying the cars with spares etc. The place bounced with music and revving engines most of the night as people continued arriving.
The Friday action started at 8am and went on until 7pm with 45min track time sessions every hour mixed with either drifters or Extreme drivers taking up the remaining 15min each hour. There were up to roughly 15 cars on track at a time and the organisers rarely black flagged anyone. Basically so long as you don’t hit anyone or force them off the track its "GAME ON" (which lets face it suits a Ballymena sham let loose in his new big power cossie for the first time on soil, far far away – G). Plenty of yellow flags when they are removing a car from the gravel and getting them straight back on track to have another track attack. One M3 BMW attempted the big right hander 4 -5 times in clear air and only got round once without leaving the track, twice managing to keep going and twice needing towed out of the gravel trap and the rescue driver never spoke a word to him. Just all part of the fun.
Saturdays early start meant we got extended track time while the Norwegians sobered up after the partying in the babes zone with their Mintu (50% spirit drank straight generally) and in the afternoon the rains came and dampened the drifters and extreme drivers who pretty much sat out the afternoon altogether meaning more time for us! There was plenty of trade stands to dander round and hotdog vendors galore, but at £5 for a burger or hotdog it isn’t cheap. No beer tents or alcohol allowed near the track so it’s very focused on the driving.
With our early departure on Sunday to make the boat in Rotterdam on Monday night we loaded up and watched the track action in the sunny weather. The infamous Norwegian Blue (now silver) WRC escort on great form smoking 4 tyres the entire length of the top right hander as seen on youtube so often! Looks, sounds and smells better in the flesh!
The pictures tell a better story of the track action than I could except to say its AWESOME.