Interview with Martynas Samsonas about the Fivemiletown Rally in Northern Ireland
Tell us about the weekend in Northern Ireland. How was the roads, weather, atmosphere?
The roads are practically the same as they were 2 or 3 years ago. The surface is very rough, stony, pitted.
It was snowing a lot a few days before the rally, so there was a bit of anxiety about rally cancelation, but during the day everything melted. Due to bad weather, several ferries were canceled and the journey to Ireland itself took almost 3 days. We had to change the route of travel, ferries.
You mentioned earlier about the improvements to the BMW rear suspension that you planned to test at this rally. Has this plan succeeded? And what is the problem?
There is basically no problem. It depends on which side you watch at it. I always want to come up with something better. The original BMW rear suspension is not bad, just the more you try to increase wheel travel, the more the wheel alignment goes in the wrong direction. The worse wheel alignment is – the worse car controls, especially on a bad and pitted road.
With the new suspension, we could have about 300mm of wheel travel without floating wheel alignment. But we drove with the “old good” suspension, as always. It did not cause much trouble to drive fast 😊
Your name is associated with Bushwacker, Fivemiletown Rallies. Why Northern Ireland and not Scotland or other parts of the archipelago?
That’s just the way it was. Our representative for the whole of the United Kingdom lives and works in Northern Ireland. We have been working with them for a good 15-16 years, and this is naturally the way we work together. The two rallies in the region are more than enough for us. To do more is difficult both physically and financially. Maybe we will go elsewhere in the future. We had a dream to take part in the Malcolm Wilson Rally, but things didn’t go well. It may work in the future, but so far it is clear without bigger plans.
BMW reigns among RWD cars in Lithuania. In the United Kingdom, the Ford Escort. Maybe you can compare these two different verses? What makes the Ford Escort so special?
I think this is a matter of history. We once had a top Audi 100 with us, as the UK did the MK1 and MK2 Escorts. That’s what makes it special – its history. As a rally car, for me personally, it’s just like one of the beautiful rally cars. The BMW E36 is still the fastest 2WD in the world 😊
Ireland is a country of asphalt rally. What about the gravel rallies and the attitude towards them?
Yes, asphalt rallies make up a good 90% of all rallies combined. The situation with gravel rallies is that there are very few gravel roads. Nor does it help that they are actually all private and even locked up. They are used only by the owners or those who look after the forests. The infinity of asphalt roads and the organization is much simpler.
I think they love gravel rallies because the gravel rally becomes exotic.
The competition took place after the start of the war. What is the mood in Northern Ireland?
Very sad topic. We were already in Ireland on Thursday, and when these terrible things started, we no longer knew what to think and what to do. A big shock for everyone. Well, people work, play sports, live there. It was also a kind of job for us, we had to work, although it was damn hard to concentrate and turn to the “competition mode”.