“The roads are in absolutely perfect condition, they look fantastic. If we do get a lot of snow, we will run the plough through.
“Obviously we’d rather not have to do this after the recce, but if it’s necessary we will do that. I think the drivers would rather we ploughed the roads as close to the lines as we possibly can rather than leaving them to deal with 20 or 30cm of fresh snow.”
We’re asking this question for a Mr S. Ogier: how much would a ploughed road clean?
Kai said: “The plough does a pretty good job of shifting a lot of snow and, with the weight of the machine, it makes a good surface. There would still be some snow around on the surface though.”
One of the great debates in recent weeks has been whether or not the organizers will water the stages. They won’t. Kai told me.
Why, when it’s been -30, would they need to generate ice? It’s a good question. Here’s some more science: it’s too consistently cold. And dry.
Year-on-year we bang on about the perfect winter rally road recipe: cold spell, heavy, heavy snow, couple of days above zero to melt some of that snow, then massively deep freeze – like -15 for weeks. Then a bit more snow to make it look pretty and generate that vortexy swirly snowy picture I painted at the top of this story.
Those conditions make for a solid ice base, giving the studs something to grab hold of.
The temperature in Rovaniemi hasn’t been north of nought (Celsius) for a while now. There’s been no melting.
Instead, what we have is piles of compressed powder. Introduce 1,536 seven-mil studs on four spinning Pirellis and those Sottozeros will slice through the snow like a hot knife through butter.
Watering the stages a week or so ago would have generated that base of ice – something that was done on some of the test roads used by the teams.
“We decided not to do it,” said Tarkiainen. “We talked to the teams about it and they said they would prefer not to. The ice that generates is quite… artificial, if you like, and gives a different sort of grip.
“Don’t forget, the roads here have been sitting at minus temperatures for a long time and they really are packed hard now. The snow might be swept off the line by the cars quite quickly, but what’s underneath is solid ice; there’s a lot of moisture around the gravel in the road and that’s what freezes.”