The final stages in the development of our new product range required real world testing in arctic conditions - bring on the Arctic Rally in Rovaneimi… Our new product line is approaching launch, and there were a number of open questions that we wanted to know the answer to before launch. Rallying can sometimes takes place in poor light conditions, we often get asked by the rally fraternity whether our lights work in fog, ice-fog or snowy conditions, and does the beam penetrate far enough without glare coming back to the driver.
We arrived in Rovaneimi for the 50th anniversary of the Arctic rally to undertake the final stages of development testing. Juha Salo, seven times Finnish rally champion had offered to use our prototype lights on the condition that they gave him an improvement over his existing HID set up. Fortunately, the Triple-R prototypes did not disappoint during Thursday evenings test. Juha was able to give us a quick (!) spin through the woods, and we saw immediately how fine particles of snow can be kicked up at these temperatures (-22C), and they remain hanging in the air leading to reduced visibility. The Triple-R 1000 lights that were fitted to the bonnet of his Mitsubishi Evo were able to penetrate as one constant beam under the snow fog, and the range seemed good compared against the HID pencil beam lights.
Thursday started with a text from Juha and his co-driver Markus Salminen saying that the lights may not be permitted due to not having the E-mark… The E-mark is the test standard used in Europe and through a number of other countries, whereby the light source used within a LED lamp is certified as a single LED Module, and therefore the lamp as a whole is considered to be “one lamp”. A hastily arranged meeting with the chief scrutineer, and a few phone calls later we received confirmation that they would consider the prototype lights to be considered as a single lamp, and therefore fitting two on to the bonnet would not conflict with the rule that a maximum of 6 auxiliary lamps can be fitted to the vehicle for the rally.
Fridays racing was extremely close, with Juha Salo & Markus Salminen (Mitsubishi Evo 9) and Karl Kruuda & Martin Järveoja (Citroen DS-3) vying for first place. After the final stage, we got some great feedback from Markus Saliminen, Salo Racing:
“The best lights I’ve used in snow/ice fog conditions. The even beam of light which replaces the conventional 4 cones of light really gives you comfort and allows for faster driving. Even on the clear stages, the even distribution of light allowed your eyes to focus on the road, not on the dark and light spots that can be seen from conventional HID lights. I would prefer to run with the Lazer products for future races over HID. No bounce or vibration was experienced using this lighting setup."
Saturday started early, with race 7 beginning at 07.57. With sunrise near the Arctic Circle around 10:00am at this time of year, that meant the lights were again a crucial part of the cars performance. Juha and Markus extended their lead against Karl Kruuda, only to have a significant crash at SS8, with them dropping over a minute on the stage. Damage to the vehicle was mainly superficial but the car headlights had broken lenses and filled with snow, while the Triple-R prototypes had also been damaged by the impact. A quick change of prototype lights after special stage 10 allowed for a second set of Triple-R lights to be fitted to the vehicle before the final two dark stages. Going in to stage 11, Juha and Markus were 14 seconds behind Karl Kruuda, and the gap closed by the end of stage 11 to just 2 seconds. Everything would rest on stage 12, where fast straights and snow ice would really test the performance of our prototype lights. With speeds of over 200km/h across ice roads with walls of snow more than 1m on either side, this final stage was a tough way to finish the rally. Karl Kruuda retired following a technical fault which allowed Juha and Markus to win the event by an impressive 2 minutes and 43 seconds.
Congratulations to Juha Salo and Markus Salminen for winning the 50th anniversary Artic Rally event. An epic achievement, and for us it was an invaluable piece of testing. We now know that the new Triple-R range will beat HID technology in even the toughest rally conditions. Bring on the 100 Acre Wood Rally in the United States, where the products will be launched!