Thursday, February 21, 2013

Boys Trip: Rally Sweden

From the desk of Jason Stingerie:

Two weeks ago, February 7-10, two friends from Stavanger and I went to Sweden to watch WRC Rally Sweden. This is something I grew up watching on TV and have always wanted to go see an event in person. Now that we live in Norway it was just a quick hop over the border. Darcy wanted me to write a blog post about the trip, but she never said how many words it had to contain.... so, on to the pictures!! ;-)

We flew into Oslo Gardermoen airport on Wednesday afternoon to meet up with our tour group. We booked the trip through which I highly recommend for anyone who ever wants to see one of these events. There was about a 2.5 hour bus ride from Oslo to our hotel for the next few days in Arvika, Sweden.

On Thursday morning was practice and then qualifying for all of the cars to determine starting order the next day.

We made a short stop at the service area and were able to see a few cars being worked on (in below freezing temperatures) before the first stage that night.

That night was the opening ceremonies in Karlstad and the first stage of the race, a side by side event inside a small arena. Rally Sweden also had a historic rally event going on the same weekend with rally cars from the 60's up through the 80's. We unfortunately were unable to see any of these cars race but were able to catch them at the opening ceremonies.

Friday we visited two different stages, both with great spots to watch from just after a large jump. We also got to witness the ingenuity of some of the locals, three guys in blonde wigs strapped seats onto a large tree at the side of the road for a great viewpoint of the jump.

That night we had the opportunity to visit the Volkswagen Hospitality area. This is Volkswagen's first year in the WRC and they are doing it right. They had two fully enclosed VIP areas, one with two levels, for people to relax and eat and a fully enclosed heated area for the cars to be worked on. We were able to watch a 45 minute service on the car up close and then had dinner there, with a tour of their facility afterwards. The food and experience was amazing!

The next day we visited three more stages and were able to get some great places to view the race. I also pulled out my GoPro camera and we figured out a way to set it out on the snow bank next to the road for some great shots (video to soon follow). You can see the camera in two of the pictures below, look for the orange in the snow bank.

The final day finished with two stages back across the border in Norway.

We then made our way back to Karlstad where we would be staying that night, and where the closing ceremonies were held. Volkswagen ended up taking 1st place, with this being only their second event with the new car a pretty impressive feat. We watched the trophies being handed out and then headed out for dinner and drinks. Our tour group leader told us where the drivers will usually go to hang out that night, and we all ended up seeing and/or meeting at least one of them that night. It was a great trip and will definitely try to make it to another one at some point.

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