SaabsUnited Historic Rally Team: Here we go again!
Tomorrow, Wednesday 13´th of July to the 17´th of July the Midnightsun Rally will take place in Västerås, Sweden.
In light of this and the fact that Rally cars are in my heart, I grew up when Saab still had a factory team, I went to Sundbyberg in Stockholm yesterday to meet a group of people with a passion for Saab, Rally and Performance.
I am talking of course about, The SaabsUnited Historic Rally Team, SUHRT.
An article published yesterday on spanish website as.com claims that Saab will be joining the WRC for the 2013 season. Now before you all attack me for posting silly conjecture from around the internet tubes, I thought I’d at least diffuse this story before it got around. A rough English translation:
“A good time for poetry. After crossing the desert in the World Rally Championship, we can glimpse light at the end of the tunnel [and it looks like brighter times are ahead]. Even now there are only two brands, Citroen and Ford, Mini is one step of his debut in May in Sardinia and Volkswagen will announce its entry into the next week in Portugal. To complete the party, Saab will also be involved in the spectacular sport with its future compact model, to be called 9-2 or 9-1.
The Swedish brand has been acquired by Dutch sports car maker Spyker, in turn owned by Russian tycoon Vladimir Antonov, a lover of rallies to just buy the company that owns the television rights of the championship, North One’s next step is the introduction of Saab in the World Cup, scheduled for 2013, but could even get ahead of the next season.
The Swedish firm is not new in the sections, and with four wins in the Rally of Sweden, in 1973, 1977 and 1979 by Stig Blomqvist and Per Eklund in 1976. For the moment and have started their bids to different specialty engineers, and have fellow Russian Evgeny Novikov to be ready to pilot the car for the challenge.”
Now before you start salivating (“but Jeff, they even know the driver’s name, it must be true!”) remember the 9-1 isn’t even in the business plan yet. For it to even come to fruition by 2013, when the new 9-3 launches, would be a minor miracle. Undoubtedly work and plans are being hatched behind the scenes in Trollhättan while they decide what partners would make sense for such a model, but until there is an official indication that Saab is closer to a deal, this report is pie in the sky conjecture. I’m not saying I necessarily don’t believe it could happen, just that I’m weary of the source and certainly wondering about their own sources. Hopefully they prove right.
That said this is as good a time as ever to throw the idea out there, if a small Saab is green lighted, do you think it’s a good idea for Saab to immediately get involved with the World Rally Championship? What priority would you place on it, and why? Sound off in comments.
Thanks for the tip Marco!
It’s been a little since we updated the SUHRT website but that doesn’t mean the team has been idle.
Far from it, in fact!
The last few months have seen the guys add two more cars to the garage. The question, now, is which historic rally cars these ones will made into replicas of.
First, to the two new cars.
Jörgen picked up this blue 99Turbo 2-door notchback:
And Vladimir Antonov purchased this green 99Turbo, which is also a 2-door:
Both cars will be rally-prepared eventually and the team is currently deciding which historic Saab rally cars to re-create.
The options are as follows:
1. Stig Blomqvist RAC 1979 Red
2. Stig Blomqvist Swedish Rally 1981 Blue
3. Stig Blomqvist Swedish Championships 1980 Black
4. Ola Strömberg Swedish Championships 1980 White
It’s definitely going to be a busy winter for the guys as they prepare these two cars.
Which ones would you choose?
The Saabs United Historic Rally Team did well in that they simply managed to finish the event with both cars running. Remember, these were two brand new cars that were only completed in the days before the event and one of our drivers, Vladimir Antonov, was driving in his first rally event.
And then there’s the blown engine and all the drama of finding and installing a replacement overnight.
To the placings, then….
Our #1 Car, the black 99T, with Jörgen Trued driving and Bo Janzon navigating came in 21st position.
Our #2 car, the white 99T with Vladimir Antonov driving and Denis Giraudet navigating came in 23rd position.
A message from Jörgen:
The whole team thanks all the supporters around the globe in making it possible for us to pull off this project. The goal was to finish with both cars in Västerås and we did.
I am so relived now an now I will have a 3 week vacation with the family. There is not going to be any mechanical work during that time
Keep looking in on our website for future plans and updates. This was the finish of Midnattssolsrallyt, but it is also the start of many great things to happen…..
Thanks again and I am sure that i speak for the whole team Vladimir, Denis, Bo and myself!
Saab did well with good connections in other classes, too.
Jörgen’s uncle, Bertil Trued, won his class (Regularity, no tripmeter) in his Saab 96.
Stefan Helin came third in his class (Regularity, with tripmeter) in a Saab 99EMS.
The Historic Class (up to 1000cc) was won by Stefan Segerljung in a Saab 96 850 Monte Carlo
And finally, Kenneth Bäcklund from the Saab Performance Team won his 1600-2000cc D3 category in his Ford Escort RS.
Congratulations to all the competitors and well done to our guys in the Saabs United Historic Rally Team!
And thanks to Thilo for the image, above!
Today is the start of the final day in the Midnight Sun rally.
I spoke to Jörgen on the phone last night and after the drama of the previous day, he was a very relieved man.
The great news is that both cars – including the #1 car with the transplanted engine – made it through Day 2 unscathed. Well, almost unscathed. There may be a few marks or even indentations here and there where the conservatism of the regularity class was overlooked 🙂 but both cars are running and will start the day looking to finish the event.
I’ll be posting the results to the site as soon as I hear that both cars are over the line.
Last night, I reported that the engine in the #1 car seized up. Initial reports diagnosed an oil pressure problem, but the more the team looked into things, the more serious the situation became. This was no minor problem, it was a case of the engine going off to Valhalla, leaving our black Saab 99 Turbo high and dry.
As you may have seen in comments, Jörgen mentioned that they were going to try and transplant another engine into the #1 car.
So here’s how it happened…..
The engine came from another 99T, which was owned by a friend of the team. The car was purchased from him, and taken to a garage about 30 minutes away. They started at around 11pm last night and finished, with the engine running, at 3:30 this morning!
Just before 8am, I had the pleasure of watching the #1 roll in to the Museum car park under its own power.
The guys responsible for this massive effort are from Historic Rally Racing Team, a Swedish firm full of Saab nuts, who are specialists in preparing and repairing older Saabs exactly for this sort of work.
They also looked over the #2 car, which had a cooling problem yesterday. It turns out the cooling fan is operated by a switch, rather than being operated automatically by the thermostat – a difference that perhaps hadn’t been communicated fully. The car is all-systems-go now and both cars made a spirited start to the event just after 8am.
Some spirited driving has ensued in the #2 car?
As Denny Crane always says….. “name on the door!”
It’s been a little while since I’ve done an update from the guys over in Sweden, building up the two 99 Turbos for the Rally to the Midnight Sun.
The event itself is less than 2 weeks away now!
This video is a few weeks old, but as you’ll see the #2 car has been re-painted in Marble White and now has its decals on. The cars are getting closer and closer to being finished.
There are plenty of updates over on the Saabs United Historic Rally Team website, including the announcement of our new sponsorship with ConversGroup, a profile of our #2 Car navigator, WRC guy Denis Giraudet – and a whole bunch more stories surrounding the build of both our cars (check out the gas tanks!).