A conversation with Martynas Samsonas about the third time in the Arctic circle
Extremely difficult conditions, a mistake in the special stage, technical problems – probably not an ideal weekend. But what does this trip to the Arctic look like after everything? Maybe some positive things happened?
Even if something fails, you can find a lot of positive things 😊 Still, we got a lot of experience, and we learned a lot. I personally liked that, unlike last time, the pace notes were very good, you could hear what Ervinas said. You could see what he said as well 😊 Talking about a mistake, that was really not needed. It’s funny that we were talking with Ervinas before that stage that everything pace notes are good and sound very well. How I got in that ditch and why is hard to understand. I have a feeling that I forgot what I was doing or thought about something. I can’t answer, it rarely happens, but it usually happens when you least need it 😊
And how about a new car? Did any nuances emerge during the rally that needs to be fixed/improved before your son starts in the Zarasai winter rally in Lithuania?
A car is for Kajus rallying – if he will be good 😊 Anyway, it’s a really nice and extremely comfortable car, and in fast hands, e.g. Sami Pajari, it would be 3x faster. To be serious, it’s really, it’s a homologated class car, so it’s very comfortable to drive like all the homologated others. If you brake – the car stops, if you turn – the car turns. We had little issues, it’s natural because after assembly, we even didn’t drive half a kilometer with that car, we just spent the whole day on the dyno-stand. We continued to prepare car for the winter all the time. Maybe that’s why a couple of little things came out, but more little things than real trouble. For example, the turbine hose clamp has come loose. Or the FIA Pop-Off broke, which spoiled things up a bit. Other problems are more from stupidity, e.g. I didn’t clean the extra lamps from the snow before the start, as a result of which I had to drive for 30 kilometers with only 50-100 meters of visibility. Or my helmet intercom broke, which again forced me to ride 30 kilometers at 50% speed. Of course, I think I drove too carefully. We even used the middle power program out of the three available – we didn’t even touch the more powerful one. I would say I drove no more than 80% and compared to the Finns, I was no more than 60% 😊
Now, when we return, we have some minor work to do, but mainly to wash the car and think about something with the Popoff system. Also, we will try to present ideas and alternatives to the Rally Committee in Lithuania about N5 class. Everything else works flawlessly.
You mentioned that the first two times you were in Lapland, you didn’t even understand what you were doing there. How was this year? What is so different there that only locals understand how to drive there?
Yes, the first two times everything is like a blur. The Reece was not bad, but it was difficult to drive and hear pace notes for some reason. This year is completely different, I don’t know why, maybe the time is coming, or it just seems like that 😊 This time, everything went up right since the Shakedown, both the machine, and the pace notes, and the perception.
As for what’s different in Lapland… everything. First of all, as other participants mentioned – you need to write not 50-60 unique kilometers like in Lithuania, but 240 kilometers. You can barely remember anything there. Another thing is that most of the corners are long or very long, it is difficult to maintain speed throughout the turn, and I neither want to nor know how to attack like all the front men nor as shown in WRC, and rely on the snowbanks. Maybe it would work by accident, but so much time has been invested and so many kilometers have been driven, so I don’t want to spill everything. Another nuance of the specifics of the road – a lot of so-called “Crests”. When driving at night, the number of them increases even more, and it is impossible to write them all down, read them, hear them and understand them… So we tried to concentrate more on the distances, on the last “Crest” and in a different way, but it is really not easy in places. The are stages like I say, almost a motocross track with “hairpin”- type corners or jumps, where the car just falls off the road. You rise into like a wall and suddenly fall. You practically can’t see the road and you have to land in the correct place. In short, it is really not easy for tourists from Lithuania.
How do you manage to keep your concentration on a 30km+ special stage?
Well, certainly not without serious preparation. Above all, a clear, simple, audible pace notes. The second thing is a comfortable car. Third, realistic goals are set. You need to listen less to what is being said and to understand what is possible and what is unrealistic. The fourth is physical preparation. Long endurance training helped, I think.
The car was covered with N5 Finland attributes. What is Finn’s attitude towards N5 cars? What kind of attention did you get this weekend?
Yes, we have also created a Finnish version of the N5 website. This year we are starting a new phase in Finland. More precisely, RMC Motorsport will have a new representative in Finland – RTE Motorsport. This is the company of Janne Eronen, together with E.P. Lappi. And we will help as much as we can… There are currently 3 N5 cars in Finland, as one of the former four arrived in Lithuania. The Arctic Lapland Rally was driven by one Yaris N5, namely from the RTE team. There is the Kia N5 from Teemu Asunmaa’s team and Vitalijus Plastininas’ former Peugeot N5 was absent this weekend.
Our cars were viewed by more than one person, we had a lot of conversations. While I was somewhere else, Darius Biesevičius almost sold a Polo N5 car 😊
Special terrain, groups of turns, and distances – do you use the same methods for writing special stages as in Lithuania, or do additional signs and explanations appear in the shorthand in Lapland?
Yes, the terrain is very special, although compared to the legendary stretches of 1000 lakes, there are not even half a percent of jumps. However, as I wrote, many small and big “crests”, long and double triple turns. We didn’t use anything extra different, just that our pace notes are really changing with the years, at least it seems that way to me. It is “improving” a bit, maybe we are getting old, but at the same time, it’s not always a better pace note that wins 😊 In principle, we try very hard to understand and write down and hear “crests”, their groups, to see the farthest and clearly understand the distance to of a particular crest. For example, if it is 250 meters, it is definitely not 200, and so on. It’s especially difficult at night because there were places where you run at maximum speed for about 2 kilometers and then make a 90-degree turn out of nowhere. It’s very interesting 😊
How is the evacuation happens if car is stuck in a special stage in the Arctic? Do you have to do everything yourself, or maybe the Finns help to pull out / load the cars?
It directly depends on where you are stuck. For example, in the first Arctic Lapland rally, we stopped 300 meters before the finish line and got stuck in snow maybe a meter deep, but we were literally lifted up by I don’t even know how many Finns 😊 This time Ervinas ran to the nearest people, but there were only 3 or 4 men there… It wasn’t much help for us. Plus, two more cars went off the road in the same place, so we helped them, and after the special stage was finished, the men came with an Audi and pulled us out. Of course, a lot of people manage to get out of the snow themselves. It is mandatory to have two shovels in the car.
Which box on the calendar is marked with the date of the rally in which you will participate in the near future?
Both Zarasai and Sarma were tagged. Only with them, it is difficult to plan and it is not clear whether it will happen. We had marked Ireland, the Fivemiletown Rally, but it looks like we’ll have to miss it. The most realistic is the 100 Acre Wood rally in the USA on March 17-18, with a BMW E36. Also April 28-29 rally in Portugal with RMC N5 car. I would like to take my son Kajus there too. Maybe it will work.
Photos – M.Samsonas, Roni Nyholm, Marko Kyostila, Tolli Olikainen