The 31st of January I will be making my debut as a rally driver, driving the Norwegian rally event, Rally Hadeland. It has been a dream of mine for many years, and I am now finally going through with it! Since we have become a nice community of the past years, I thought I would share my experience with you all. First, a little about me, besides being a big fan of rally games and Codemasters, and of course wondering when we will be seeing this great game we have been promised. This is me:
My name is Benjamin. I am 25 years old, live just outside Oslo which is the capital of Norway. I am born in the UK, and moved with my family to Norway in 1996. I work as a freelance photographer, mainly focusing on journalism and commercial work. Besides this I have photographed the Norwegian rally championship the past seven years, and also the Swedish round of the WRC. I have been following rallying the past fifteen years, and my big hero has of course been Colin McRae! During this time I have been a keen rally gamer, and have won two Norwegian championships in rally gaming. The first in 2005 was driving WRC 5 Evolved, the second in 2007 driving DiRT 1 (the final stage was Pikes Peak!). I have also driven Richard Burns rally a lot, and am now using it to prepare for the upcoming event. One of my motivations to finally go ahead with my dream is to try to compare the virtual driving experience with the real thing. I have previously tested a group N Impreza and a couple of banger racing cars, and my impression is that many of the driving techniques I can use in rally games also work well in a proper rally car.
The rally event I will be driving is the local event which runs every year not far from where I have grown up during my years in Norway. I have co-driven on this event in 2006, and it's fantastic! No surprise, the surface will be snow, covering 37 kilometres of stage action. Actually, WRC-driver Mads Østberg will be competing on the event too, I expect to be right up there following his pace - NOT. The car I will be driving is a front wheel drive Nissan Almera with about 150 bhp, which I will be renting from the Norwegian rallying legend, Trond Lyseng. Trond himself has actually won the national class of Rally Hadeland with this car previously, beating mighty BMW M3's and Volvo 240's - a pretty good driver there. My co-driver, Simen, is a good friend of mine who also has been photographing the Norwegian championship. He has also competed on a number of events as a co-driver the past five years.
The last weeks I have been working to prepare things for the event. I have been lucky enough to be able to cover all my expenses through sponsorship, thanks to long time customers who liked the idea of me finally competing. The plan is to test the car for the first time this Saturday, so I am pretty geared up at the moment. Hoping to get some kilometres under my belt, so we have a good starting point for the rally. I will be keeping you all updated in the time towards the event. We will be making a video from the whole experience which I will be sharing with you after the event. We also hope to get some video and pictures from the upcoming test, this will of course be shared with you all. For now, there isn't really much more to tell, other than that I picked up my driving gear from Gundersen motorsport (Birger Gundersen, a BRC-driver back in the 90's) this afternoon:
I will be back with more for you very soon, please ask questions and start discussions if you like!
Benjamin - Benniz