It was off to my second event for WRC TV, close to home, Rally Sweden. And who would know that Norway and Sweden in the middle of February would have no snow. Luckily, and as many pointed out somebody "up there" was looking out for us and gave the rally close to perfect conditions just when we needed them.
My week started off on the Monday before the rally. I was to do a feature interview with Andreas Mikkelsen in Oslo. We met with a couple of photographers from Norwegian TV2 at the famous Ekeberg restaurant which overlooks Oslo City. Ironically, as we were waiting on decisions from the Rally Sweden organisers, our backdrop of beautiful Oslo got completely covered with thick snow falling from the sky. The interview lasted for one hour and I learned so many new things about Andreas. Like, his mentor who meant a lot to his rally career is Marcus Grönholm and that he wears a charm bracelet (yes, a manly one), and for every rally win he changes out one of the charms which originally are black to one with bling! You can see the interview on the event highlights programme on WRC+!
I left for Karlstad on Wednesday morning to meet up with the rest of the crew. The organisers had already changed the reece from Tuesday and Wednesday to Wednesday and Thursday. This also meant that Shakedown was cancelled giving drivers and teams no chance to test the car before the Rally. Normally we do pre-event interviews at Shakedown, so my first job for Thursday morning was to go to the start of the reece. It was a 04:30 wake up and I am sure the crews getting to the first recce stage that morning were surprised to see us. When the first car got there I could here someone singing Happy Birthday at 07:30 in the morning. It was Haydon Paddon´s codriver John Kennard´s birthday! The drivers had mixed feelings about the conditions and most of them had to complete re-write their notes from previous years. Where there used to be snow banks, there were now rocks they could potentially hit. I remember Henning´s answer to me asking what it was like for a driver to take on the conditions that were going to make up this years Rally Sweden. "I don´t care. As long as there is rubber on the wheels!" Or something like that. Alway´s a funny guy.
Early morning reece crew. Ollie, Molly and Chris.
Sunrise in the Swedish forrest.
Friday it was off to work on a Norwegian spectator piece. This meant going to the Norwegian stages of the day. And they certainly know how to make the place look good!
This is Gordon, the sound man! Probably the nicest guy ever! :)
The feature crew. Heikki is hard at work. Gordon and I having a laugh :) Photo: Arild Viken
I am lucky to have this guy as my mentor, Julian Porter. You might know him best for his stage end reporting and he has been doing that for 17 years! He takes the time to answer every single annoying question that I have. Did you know that Julian makes a spiral book before every rally which includes every single statistic there is on drivers, teams, rallies etc.
On Saturday we had several features to make, and our first stop was Colin´s Crest! Here we talked to Fredrik the man in charge of the jump. Then we had a chat with Colin´s Crest´s master of cermonies, Per Christian Håve Ødegaard. He knows how to make a crowd noisy!
And...We met Brian. He had come all the way from California to his first WRC event. Saved up for two years and it was on his before he turns 30 bucket list. Great guy and the TV crew actually only met him by chance at the place we had dinner on Thursday night.
Then Heikki and I had to rush off because Omar (who is our coordinator) called to tell us we had to get to the end of the next stage Rämmen. This was because on the stage we were on, Vargåsen Haydon Paddon had managed to take 24 seconds off Sebastien Ogier´s time! However we were rediverted to the end of Vargåsen as I was doing the live stage end interviews. It´s a lot of fun with the radio communication not always knowing where we are going to next because there might be a story to follow.
Stage end it is! Absolutely LOVE this!
Oddly, there was only one stage to run on Sunday. For me it was a big day because I was going to do stage end interviews for the first time on the Power Stage. Julian gave me a good run through of the procedure especially for the winning interview. As we got the end of the show Haydon Paddon came to the stage end with a problem. This was quite a dramatic moment because we could see him stopping the car by the podium, both he and John hard at work to fix the problem. We were awaiting Sebastien Ogier as the winner of the rally but knew that we also had to make our way quickly to Haydon to find out what was going on as he might not make it back to service. Some very exciting moments there going from interviewing the winner of the rally to rushing over to Haydon discovering he had a hole in his radiator and that they had to fix that before heading back. Omar once again was on the radio saying that we had to follow Haydon if anything happened on the road. Luckily he made it back and secured a great result! Congratulations also to Seb for the win and Mads for taking 3rd.
Photo: Mogens Larsen
Next up is Mexico. I have never been but everyone say´s it is one of the best on the calendar. Can´t wait! Stay tuned.