Catherine Levis (now Catherine Shinnors) and myself (Matt Shinnors) competed in the Arctic Rally last weekend the 29-30th of Jan. I’m not sure how many Irish Competitors have competed in this rally.
Billy Coleman did in 1974 but few have competed it since.
We got married in an Ice Church a few miles from Rovaniemi a few day prior to the rally and the Arctic rally was our honeymoon. (We actually got engaged after crossing the finish line in rally Barbados a few years ago , where we finished 3rd in class in our Mark 2 Escort on that rally!)
Rovaniemi is the HQ for the rally and the actually the home town for Santa Claus.
I purchased a Finnish specification LHD BMW 325i e36 for the event in Finland, which was held on ice and snow covered roads around Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland. There were 5 stages on Friday and another 5 stages on Saturday with 250 km of special stages.
Our BMW was entered in class SM5 which was for 2 wheel drive cars up to 3.0 Litres. There were 17 competitors in our class, one of the largest classes in the event. We finished 9th in class in the end, but to finish the rally was like winning it to us.
It was very challenging but satisfying rally, the recce was tough as the stages weren’t repeated (except the super special) so we had to make 250km or so of pacenotes. Some of the stage were as narrow as Irish forestry events and others where as wide as the classic “1000 Lakes” roller coaster type stages.
The grip change from stage to stage some very icey and others not so much ice, but the studded tyres were the job. The last 51km stage took us something like 40 minutes, which is comparable to an Irish forestry event length. We were thrilled to finish and it made the rally honeymoon!