News 4 - Recce
Day 1 Potsdam - Torun
After a good meeting with the city of Potsdam our start venue is now final. We will start from the Louisenplatz, Brandenburger Tor in the center of Potsdam to leave the city in the direction of Berlin across the Glienicker Brucke.
This is about half an hour from the lakeside hotel we will use for this first night.
This bridge is also known as the Bridge of spies and it marked the border between East and West till 1990. (More info on Potsdam in The Potsdam Pioneers Newsletter 1).
We will take the motorway into Poland to quickly cover the first 100 of about 500 km for the first day. we found you very nice coffee and lunch halts for the day and even 3 interesting regularities till we get to Torun, our first night halt.
The scenery is beautifull with large purple fields along the roads. We found some unusable cobbled roads aswell as poor gravel but you will be glad to know that we will not use these (yet...) Although Keith has worked with my father in the past, it is the first recce I am doing with him. 40 odd years of experience added to my 20 years, I am sure we will end up with a great event for all of you.
Day 2 Torun - Birstonas
From Torun we are on an early start to Birstonas in Lithuania. It is a shame we do not have more time to spend in the medieval city of Torun, so if you do have a chance to take the 3 minute walk into the old city center from the hotel, I highly reccomend this.
You will get to see Poland in all its glory today. From beautifull old cities, circuits, derelict old villages, gorgeous lakes and mansions to smooth tar, cobbled and gravel roads. One of the things that we were both amazed about is the number of storks.
You would start to think that all our babies come from Poland... or Lithuania for that matter because they do not seem to care about physical borders so much. Speaking of borders, there still is some evidence that the border existed, but that is about it.
Much to the opposite of where I am from, the speed limit rules are very simple in the Baltics. They only consist of 3 different speeds. 50 kph in urban area, 70 kph on gravel and 90 kph on the main roads.
About the competition I can tell you that the gravel sections have started, even if we stay on mainroads we find gravel... So we have found you 3 regularity sections to let you get used to the gravel and 1 super test on a rallycrosstrack (Tar only!)
The hotel in Birstonas was building the rooms and restaurant for our stay next year so we will all have brand new beds to sleep in after this long day.
Day 3 Birstonas - Riga
Today we go into the next country wich is Latvia. 3 day's and 4 country's (Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia) is not a bad score I would say. Once in Scandinavia we will need 11 day's for 3 countries.
From Birstonas we will make our way to Riga across beautifull countryside, empty roads and again some lovely long and winding gravel roads. It will be a shorter day than yesterday but with exciting competition ahead.
We managed to find you a tests, 2 regularities and 1 navigation section to keep you on your toes.
Day 4 Riga - Tallinn
Just out of Riga we will first visit the Birkenai Race track like we have done in 2000. Although a lot has changed in the country, the city and on the track, the old racetrack is still there and driveable. Not as well kept as the Nordschleiffe at the Nurburgring but with a total lenght of over 7 km it sure is a beauty. The 5 laps of the lap concistancy test will take a bit of time here.
Soon after Birkenai we have found another great test that Timo has tried out for you. We may have you do something completely different there...
In total we have found you 3 tests, 2 regularities, a navigation section and a lunch on a Baltic Sea beach to end the first sector of the event. Ending the day in Tallinn where we stay in the new Hilton, just a 5 minute walk to the old town, where you might want to spend the first rest day of the event and enjoy the beauty of this medieval city.
Not for too long mind you as the hotel at the end of our rest day is some 30 km away, across the Baltic Sea, in Helsinki. Our ferry should sail at about 16:30 o'clock in the afternoon. See you in Finland!
Day 5 - Restday in Tallinn and ferry to Helsinki.
Day 6 Helsinki - Jyvaskyla
As we leave Helsinki behind we set off into the great forrest of Finland. You will see less and less traffic as we get further into the countryside where you will enjoy the smooth and winding roads, both tar and loose surface. The gravelroads are verry dufferent from the ones we leave behind in the Baltics. In Finland they seem much more sealed and therefor smoother. They call it the land of the 1000 lakes but Keith and I think that this is just because The land of 169.547 lakes does not have the ring to it and also, will not fit on a rallyplate... We have at virtually every lake this first day here just to make a picture. I am sure we will soon get bored with this after we have driver around Jyvaskyla, our final goal for today. Before we get there however, we have arranged for our lunch today to be in the Finnish Rally Museum. A small but impressive collection of rallycars amongst which you will find the original Mini that was driven by the one and only Flying Fin: Timo Makkinen.
We will spend the night in the very suitable Scandic Laajavuori hotel. The headquartes for the WRC rally of Finland for many, many, many years now. You will see the pictures of all the Flying Fin's on the walls in the hotel.
Day 7 Jyvaskyla - Vuokatti
As we leave Jyvaskyla to go futher North it will become harder to find us suitable roads for regularities as most of the roads are fast and winding between the lakes. We have found you 2 interesting tests however and a lunch in a Salmon restaurant by a fast flowing river. The salmon is actually caught in the river behind the restaurant so daily fresh catch, smaked in house and direcly onto your plate...
We have not stopped making pictures of the lakes however... it is a great feat of nature to see all these lakes spread over the countryside from very small to immens size. What makes it even special is to see them (and most of the sides of the roads) lined with lupins!
Be aware however that these waters do attract musquito's. Getting out of the car to make the control pictures for our marshal team gives us at least on sting per control... but that is only because we get back in to the car as soon as possible.
Kajaani is our final destination today before we will reach the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi tomorrow.
What I have not told you yet is that from Helsinki onwards, we will no longer see the sun go down at night. It will get close to the horizon still, but it will go behind it. 24 hours of daylight therefor!
Day 8 Vuokatti - Rovaniemi
From Vuokatti we leave to head North for the last day in the event. We are heading for Lapland where the strange Finnish language becomes even more strange. We have seen signposts that need op to 5 posts to accomodate the largest words. You would clear your scrabble letters in 1 go because it seems the order in which they are placed does not matter so much. It proved wise today that the recce car is carrying a handsaw... Being a carpenter in original trade, Keith had no trouble in cutting the Birchtree in pieces that was blokking 1 of the many gravel roads in this part of Finland. We have found you some sweet regularities, a few tests again, many gravelroads, lakes and for the first time, Reindeer. They are all over the place and they sem to waiting in the ditches beside the road to jump out in front of you and then continue on the road slowing you down in the middle of a regularity. They have a funny walk these animals, must have been the inspiration for John Cleese and the Ministry of silly walks once.
Arriving in Rovaniemi, before we go to the hotel, You will have to cross the Arctic Circle and receive a welcome from Santa Claus himself. Keith and I met with him to arrange the crossing and he promised us that he would personally see to it that everything would go smoothly. For all you non believers... he truly excisist! I have met him!
Day 9 Rovaniemi - Arjeplog
Heading west for most of the day to cross another border. This time we go to Sweden and the clock changes back to Central European Time. We get an extra long day on the longest day of the year. Lucky us!
More reindeer today, more than you would have hoped for even... In both Finland and Sweden. We even saw an Albino reindeer gazing at us, standing in the middle of the rad, as they seem to like to do. It would have been the perfect camouflage, if it was Mid Winter instead of Mid Summer. It is an easy run across smooth roads today with only 2 regularities and a navigation section. Coming to Arjeplog however, we HAVE to do a special test. Arjeplog is the place where ABS brakes where invented and the place where most car manufacturers go in the winter to test their latest products on all sorts of tracks, mostly on the lakes.... We have the lakes but as you would have guessed they where not quite solid enough to drive on this time of year. We have found you something else instead and I can asure you that it will be someting different.
Day 10 Arjeplog - Mosjoen
Wouldn't you know it... A nail in our tyre this morning... Guess it was one of those they use to drive on the frozen lakes with in winter. After fixing flat tyre this morning we set for the gravel roads again... Long and straight is beginning to change into twisty and we are climbing hills even. We found some interesting roads for you today but so much competition here. I guess coming to our second restday is a good thing by now.
After leaving the land of 1 million musquito's and 1000 lakes we have now entered the land 1000 waterfalls. The Finnisch lakes are surrounded by forest, the lakes here are all surrounded by snow topped mountains, even in June! A great change in scenery which I am sure you will enjoy.
Tonights hotel is on the edge of the old town of Mosjoen. Old wooden houses with wooden sheds at the back on the riverside. A short walk out the backdoor of the hotel will show you what I mean. If this is all too boring for you, you may be interested in flying on a zipwire across this same river... It must be 200 meters long.
Day 11 Mosjoen - Trondheim
Our final day before the second restday of the event. But have found plenty to do for all of you. Nice recularities, 4 of them and a test on a circuit again.
Possibly even 2... if there is place in Hell for us?!
The mountains get bigger, the lakes get deeper and colors so much
brighter down here. It must be because the restday is coming up that the world lookes a brigter place. It might also be because we have our first day of rain on the recce yesterday and today the wheather is on our side again?
It is amazing how many different wild animals we have seen on this trip sofar. We have seen Stork, Cranebirds, foxes, fox cubs, deer, reindeer, elk, salmon (the last four even on a plate, to wich Keith strongly objected), a blackwood pecker, sheep, horses, goats and countless different birds. I can only hope you will be so lucky on the event. You might even see a bear as they too seem to live up here!
Day 12 Restday in Trondheim
Day 13 Trondheim - Geiranger
As we are in Fjordlands now the route is mostly dictated by the shape of these for the next 3 day's. And what a route it is. The words to describe what I have seen today fail me.
We have decided to only give you competition till the lunch halt and basically give you a free run into Geiranger so you may enjoy the fjords, the mountain passes and the magnificant views in your own time. The well known trollstigen and the view into the Geiranger fjord are just 2 of them.
Day 14 Geiranger - Balestrand
Another day with spectacular views, ferry's to get over the Fjords and high gravel passes. Right out of the hotel you will find your first regularity of the day that will bring you to, reportedly, the highest viewpoint into a Fjord from the road... Amazing! ofcourse they would have you buy things intheir souvenir shop again because as we have found,
Norway has become a lot more aware of their touristic value. a few more regularities today but not too many as having a ferry in the day, this might upset the timeshedule too much to get you all together again. Not to worry though, we will regroup at nice coffee and teastops like always!
Day 15 Balestrand - Geilo
The last of the Fjords today with yet another ferry to get out of Balestrand. Not to worry, there will still be lots and lots of water but they are lakes this time... easily mistaken by fjords
because of their size though! We are getting to the area where most Norwegians spend their holiday's. It shows aswell. More skislopes, more cabins by the lakeside and we think they deliberately turn on the waterfalls for us tourists around here. You will have seen about a 1000 waterfalls up to now but you can add another 1000 to your collection today!
Day 16 Geilo - Sundvollen
The final day of the event before we finish at the Sundvolden hotel in Sundvollen. A short but magnificant day where we will have the usual sting in the tail with a test and 2 regularities in just a morning. We will finish for a late lunch where the BBQ will be on next to the finish arch so you can cheer eachother in whilst enjoying your BBqed salmon or reindeer.
See you all at the start at the Brandenburger Tor in Potsdam!