The crew of Nikolay Gryazin and Yaroslav Fedorov opened the season in Norway by winning one-day Sigdalsrally, the first event of the national championship, second time in a row.
This race in Eghedal valley was part of crew's training in preparation for WRC Rally Sweden. The main goal was to get some good and most importantly fast mileage on snow and ice instead of playing safe to reach the finish line.
Nikolay and Yaroslav accomplished their goal by winning seven out of eight special stages. They demonstrated significant dominance throughout the race and won the event. Henning Solberg finished half a minute behind Nikolay and Ole Christian Veiby's brand new VW Polo GTI R5 won the third place with more than a minute behind the winner.
The extensive test program before the race in Norway was not enough to find the perfect set-up, and it took Nikolay some time to come up with a working solution. In addition the track got more rutted on the second run causing low grip outside the rut. This experience goes a long way towards achieving better performance and results in Sweden's WRC 2 event which has similar conditions.
Nikolay Gryazin: "The race went well. We expected to get some quality mileage ahead of Sweden, get a measure of the local drivers, win as many special stages as possible — and we did just that.
Unfortunately, we couldn't win all the stages — Ole Christian Veiby had the best time on SS7. It was also difficult to find the right pace at the final special stages: we needed to keep the maximum speed yet didn't want to crash right before the finish line.
We were handed a 10-second time penalty for starting SS4 with headlights turned off. This behaviour is specific to Škoda Fabia R5: when switched to Stage mode, the headlamps go out. We were at the standing start of the special stage, Stage mode on, first gear selected. The marshal signaled to turn the lights on but I was focused on the stage, ready for action and drove with headlights switched off almost all the way to the finish line. This was a mistake, luckily for us it did not affect the final result.
It was interesting to compare our performance with Henning Solberg and Veiby. It's a pity that Mads Østberg had to miss the rally due to technical problem. We were looking forward to compete against the championship regular even though he was in a car of a different class (the Norwegian was going to drive Subaru Impreza WRX). It would be very interesting to compare with a WRC 2 Pro driver.
The special mention and the warmest words of gratitude are deserved by the atmosphere of the rally and the wonderful Norwegian fans who supported us during the race and were warmly welcomed during the awards ceremony. Many thanks to all of you!"
The next stop in the schedule of Nikolai Gryazin is another Norwegian event - KNA Rally Finnskog. This one-day rally, with six special stages with a total length of 121.94 km, will be held on January 26.
Information source: www.nikolay-gryazin.com