Fredric Aasbø was thinking that his Toyota 86-X had definitely been out of action for too long since its European tour and demos at the end of last year. But at home in Norway, freezing temperatures and seemingly impassable roads would be no obstruction to blowing away the cobwebs. In fact, the worse the conditions, the more likely it would appear that Norwegians are to organise an event. Get a hundred or so cars, fit some spiked snow tyres, find a frozen lake: and voila. You have Gatebil On Ice.
But just turning up on the day with what he had at the close of 2012 wouldn’t be enough: Fredric had something up his sleeve for Gatebil On Ice courtesy of his friends at KRB Trading.
I’d flown in to meet Fredric from the UK, which had been suffering under a blanket of snow that had virtually paralysed the country. Then I arrived in Norway, and everything was put in context. This is a country which is under snow for a good six months of the year. A blanket of snow? This was more like a carpet bombing! I traded my compact rental car up to a Subaru 4×4 just to be safe and felt a lot better about things…
But it’s all about attitude: in the UK for sure there’s not the investment in infrastructure, but also people just aren’t used to driving in slippery conditions. Over here, these kind of road conditions are normal, and drivers adjust their approach accordingly. It also helps that winter tyres are a legal requirement.
Driving through Norway is never a chore, and the frozen harbours around the Bygdøy promontory were absolutely beautiful, and were worth the risk of wild snapping away out of the window.
KRB Trading are located about an hour to the south-west of Oslo: a blast down the snowy motorway from the capital and then a short run on local roads parallel with the frozen Drammenselva river – one of Norway’s largest waterways, which heads inland from the big Drammensfjord on the coast.
KRB’s relationship with Fredric goes deep: they were heavily involved in the engine for the 86-X project…
…which in itself went back to Fredric’s previous Supra ride. They’ve also worked with rallycross legend Sverre Isachsen over the years – he lives relatively locally. Norway is a big country, but everybody is a close neighbour it appears!
So, what do KRB Trading do exactly? One look inside their main building made it pretty clear. Kai Bakken and his crew live and breath turbocharging. I’ve never seen so many turbos in one place. You could turbocharge the whole earth with the quantity of blowers in their stock! Shelves and boxes groaned under the weight of turbos of every size and shape.
As the sun sank over the horizon and the bitter cold set in, attention turned to KRB’s relatively recent addition to their arsenal: a fully equipped, purpose-built dyno room built just over a year ago.
Fredric rolled up with the 86-X snug in its trailer – and snug was an understatement. The ultra-wide Rocket Bunny bodykit means the car fits in with just centimetres to spare…
Safely out of the trailer, Fredric backed the Toyota into the garage to get hooked up to the dyno life support system.
It was time to play turbos.
There would be two main changes for the 86-X’s first run-out of 2013: the first was a Comp billet cartridge turbo upgrade.
With the extra power the former was expected to deliver, the second addition would be even more critical given the surface: studded Pirelli WRC-spec snow tyres.
After getting so used to seeing the 86-X hunched down with its wide rubber straining at the arches at insane camber, it looked very strange with its almost tricycle configuration for the ice: The front wheels stayed out wide, whereas the rears were housed right inside the arches – more on this in the following story.
So while Fredric and the KRB team got to work, I went exploring around the rest of the KRB workshops in search of the KRB Audi S1: the Gatebil Dragon. I found its heart…
…and then in a separate workshop I came across its body.
Kai has completely stripped the Audi back to the spaceframe: that will be refinished and repainted, whilst the mechanicals and bodywork will also get overhauled.
Actually, although the engine is of course a fundamental part of the Audi’s awesomeness, Kai reckons this block of metal is the key – and it’s also one of the most expensive things in the build: its Sellhom 4WD gearbox and differential.
The suspension, hubs and brakes are also due a service: coolant from an engine blow-up last year had corroded the gold anodising on the A-arms.
An important addition for the car is a set of air-jacks, which will save not just on time but also potential damage and having to cart around a big trolley jack to every event. The aim is for the Audi to be back on track by May.
Back in the dyno room things were getting interesting. With each test run the garage doors would be pulled down to help soundproof the area (KRB have good neighbours that they’d like to keep that way), and the revs would rise as new mapping were tried out.
The excitement grew as the numbers got bigger: on the screens we watched as each result surpassed the last (except for one where the graph drew an alarming boomerang shape due to a misplaced sensor!).
By the end of the session, Fredric had 913nm of torque and 685hp at 1.65 bar of boost to play with. Impressive! And remember that this is an almost stock VVTI 2JZ with a 6067 Comp turbo and some serious work from KRB and SWR Performance.
The drop off after peak torque was expected as the stock cams let off a little at the top, but it was delivering insane power from 3,000rpm, with a great midrange and solid power curve. Of course, the 86-X is not just the sum of the parts but the result of hard work by all the people involved.
There was a celebratory mood as the car was packed up ready for the next day…
…where the car would be in completely new territory – and all that torque would be delivered through those tiny ice tyres! The lake didn’t look like it would stand a chance…
Smiles all round – and time for some serious social media sharing.
The next morning, with the translucent pre-dawn light, the team assembled back at KRB. This year this poor KRB Audi would be staying under the snow rather than drifting round on it…
…but a customer’s car that KRB were also responsible for was already on its trailer and ready to go.
It was seriously cold…
Our convoy was soon ready to move off, so it was then time to navigate to Sigdal and the lake.
The roads were exciting, I think it’s best to say.
It was also pretty clear who else was on their way to Gatebil On Ice! None of us had heard a Nissan Patrol that sounded like this one: its diesel had obviously seen some serious blowing, and the thing was deliberately sideways through most corners – helped by its tractor-like rubber!
Arriving at the lake, it was clear that this really was going to be a hell of a day. Fredric’s Supra was also on hand, one of a huge selection of cars of every possible style. After all, this was still Gatebil.
Out around the lake, a team of ploughs carved round at breakneck speeds. Taking these…
…and sprinkling in a lot of this…
…guaranteed that the number plate on the front of this Pontiac summed up what was ahead. Mayhem on ice. And that’s coming up next!
oh can t wait for the days events to be posted!!!! The final picture was a lol moment.
Looking forward to the days story.I like how those snow tires/rims sit in the front guards more than the usual setup
i love the way cars look on skinny ice tyres. don't know why, maybe because ice racing is AWESOME
guys, can you try to not use auto white balance while taking pictures on snow, despite what canon cameras think, snow is not actually blue. at all.
lekonna It seems like it is when it's freezing and six in the morning! And it sometimes it looks nicer than grey... :)
MatsNorway Jonathan Moore lekonna The blue hour before and after the sun arrises and sets is longer in norway due to how low the sun actually goes on the sky in the winter, so blue is what is what it looks like in the morning and evening ;)
All i can say that 35 years living in finland, seeing blue snow is not cool. but then again, that is universally true for all colors of snow. snow just plain sucks. Sometimes around this time of the year you get the nice pinkish-purple hue during the twilight hours (3pm or so) which sucks slightly less, might even call it passable.