Icelandic rally driver Gunnar Karl Jóhannesson will contest the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship at the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R2 in the Cadet Cup category with George Gwynn and Isak Gudjonsson set to co-drive this season.
The 21-year-old young-gun from Iceland is the latest driver to register for Britain’s premier rallying series and will contest the action-packed Cadet Cup in 2018 in a ME RallySport-prepared Fiesta R2. Despite growing up hundreds of miles from his ‘home round’ of the BRC – the Border Counties Rally, the Iceman has been watching from afar with great interest.
“After rallying in Iceland for six years, the plan has always been to compete abroad,” explained Jóhannesson. “I have followed the sport from a very young age and the BRC has always been an important championship. The last few years has produced some very competitive competition in the Juniors and Cadets.”
Running the Icelander is BRC frontrunner Matt Edwards, with the Welshman bringing a raft of knowledge and experience to the Nordic drivers first season on the British stages.
“A few years ago in 2015 I did some events in the UK in a Evo 10 and that’s where I met Matt [Edwards]. He taught me many things, including how to drive in the Welsh forests. A couple of years later, Matt approached me with the amazing opportunity to drive in the BRC – I just couldn’t say no.”
Jóhannesson is used to the snow banks of Iceland and bigger, heavier Mitsubishi’s and Subaru’s as the weapon of choice, but for the 2018 season Gunnar Karl will switch to the lighter and smaller Fiesta R2.
“I am using this year as a learning year. I have only driven four-wheel drive rally cars before, so the R2 car will be a whole different game – there are more trees next to the stage for starters. Front-wheel drive is a massive change. The Cambrian Rally was a really good experience and it helped me learn so much.
“The Fiesta handled really well and I didn’t end up in a ditch – which was a great first event! I had to search for the grip alot more with the front-wheel drive. The torque is different, as I was shifting up the gears way too early and not getting all the power out of the car and onto the road. We hope to test again before the Border Counties so I can put everything I learnt into practice again and find the optimum setting.”
With many new challenges on the horizon, Jóhannesson is looking forward to the new season, with many new opportunities facing the young driver.
“I have to say it will be Wales Rally GB. I will only be the second Icelandic driver to enter the event and to say I have done a WRC event will be incredible. It’s going to a be a great year and I am really excited as I have so much to learn on the car and on the events themselves. I have never driven a tarmac event so that will be quite special.
“I would really like to thank Matt for all his help so far and for giving me this opportunity. I cannot put it into words and I cannot wait to give it a good go and enjoy the experience.”