Impressions of Vladas Jurkevičius, who overcame his North Dakar at the Arctic Circle this weekend
What is the atmosphere like inside of the World Rally Championship?
To be frank, it’s not very much who we interacted with there, as the schedule is very tight during the WRC events. We slept less than we would have liked all week, and the days were very tiring – so we rested at free time. But otherwise, we met a variety of people, both young drivers who do their best to ever drive a WRC car, and older ones for whom WRC events are just fun. These moods are different for them too.
What surprised you the most during this long weekend? Personally or collectively, in both a good and a bad sense
For us, it was the second stage of the WRC (for Aisvydas the third). As far as I can remember, WRC Rally Estonia last year went through a slightly freer schedule. We are really very tired during this rally because the special stages are very difficult and long enough. About half of the stretches we drove at night. The average speed of the stages was 120km / h with a lot of fast, blind turns through the crests. This required maximum concentrations both during the reece, its inspection, and driving. This week-long fatigue was a little unexpected for me.
Are such differences in grip also common in the winter events of the Baltic States?
I haven’t ridden many winter rallies, it’s hard to comment on anything in this place. The traction in the line was good enough, but it is similar in the Baltic stages. However, when driving on the same sections for the second time, a number of places were left without snow, only gravel with particularly good grip, but it severely damaged the studs, so a balance had to be hit between grip and tire savings to survive to the end of the stage.
Did the yellow extra lights work at night?
Yes. With these lights in winter, you can see the contours of the road more clearly and we have fewer reflections from the snow. I would also like to try the glasses with yellow filters, which were very popular among the best drivers this year.
Is it possible to maintain concentration in extremely long special stages and, in general, with fatigue covering 140 km of stages per day?
The Arctic Rally was the toughest rally I have ever ridden in this regard. There are probably a few things here – a high average speed, a night, long distances, and a new car to me. I will not hide, at the end of the special stages (and especially at the end of the day) it was difficult to follow the pacenotes and in some places, I had to release the speed pedal because of that. Maintaining concentration on such long days and in such long stages is one of the most important things I would like to train now.
You changed the air filter after the special stage. What other spare parts are in the car?
We changed twice. Once after special stage 6, and again after SS 10. When you run through the snowbank with a car nose, snow collects in the air filter, which does not allow to take in enough air and the power of the car disappears completely. We also carried 2 spare wheels everywhere, which we exchanged between stages so that we would always drive with tires of optimal quality.
Did you share information, tips, etc. with Gregor Jeets, who also rode on the SRT team?
We talk about how things are going for us, it’s a lot of fun to have a similar level driver on the team. We compare times during tests, share impressions after special stages, and talk anyway.
Three new things that you realized during this rally
- It is a necessity to train to maintain concentration for a long time, I have not had such troubles so far, but it was very felt in this rally.
- You need to be psychologically prepared for the changing grip on the road surface during the same special stage. It used to be very slippery at first kilometers in the same SS, after which the grip suddenly improves a lot. I don’t think I’ve fully exploited that grip in many places.
- Finns love rally souvenirs 😊 In the last special stage, we accidentally tore the front bumper. We put the bumper next to the road so that the mechanics would come after the SS to pick him up, but when they arrived an hour later they found nothing 😊 Next time they will need to hide deeper. And the bumper is big enough to hardly fit in a car, I wonder what they will do with it 😊
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Photos – Honza Fronek