Rallying in the Arctic Circle will be a different experience for Paul Nagle this weekend. The Aghadoe man, and his driver Craig Breen, are taking part in the second round of the World Rally Championship driving for the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Team.
With temperatures set to drop to -20°C, preparation for the Arctic Rally Finland is much different to other rallies.
Aside from standard in-car equipment such as a fire extinguisher, first aid kit and a reflective warning triangle, every competing car must contain a pack of winter clothing for the driver and co-driver in case they become stranded mid-stage in the frozen forests.
“The idea is that if you retire somewhere in the middle of nowhere you might have to stay there for quite a bit of time before we run the stage so it’s important that you can stay outside the car and still keep yourself warm,” explained clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen.
“Therefore you need to carry warm hats and mittens and an overall or something warm, a coat, trousers and proper boots. I think the boots are the most important bit really because if you can keep your feet warm then the rest of the body stays warm.”
Another aspect of the rally that has to be taken into consideration is the fact that spectators are not allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Finland.
Drivers use the high snowbanks to lean their cars through the corners but sometimes the banks give way, sending the car off the road.
Usually a band of willing spectators are on hand to lift the car back onto the track.
In the absence of fans, drivers will carry two snow shovels in the rally car so they can dig their own way out of the deep snow.
The rally gots underway at 1pm Irish time on Friday. It is based in Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland and Santa’s home town. Indeed, the rally headquarters is one of Santa’s famous workshops.