Audi brakes ski jump record again
Audi returned to the ski jumping facility of Kaipola in Finland and climbed the inrun tower with an A6 quattro for a TV commercial, just like back in 1986
Kaipola, Finland, 24 January 2005, 1.27 p.m: the expression on Uwe Bleck’s face is probably much the same as when he is putting his car into the garage at home or driving to the shops. He is sitting behind the wheel and looks calm and relaxed. It is hard to believe that, after quite literally scaling new heights, he has just parked his Atlas Grey Audi A6 4.2 quattro 47 metres off the ground at an angle of 37.5 degrees – and that is approximately equivalent to an 80 percent gradient. On a ski jump!
The Audi engineer has repeated a feat that only rally driver Harald Demuth had achieved before him, in 1986. Back then, Demuth had climbed the Pitkävuori ski jump in Kaipola, Finland in a Audi 100 CS quattro for what has become an almost legendary quattro commercial. In doing so he set a record that had stood until Uwe Bleck got behind the wheel. To mark its “25 years of quattro” anniversary, Audi has now filmed a sequel to this ad on the same jump. The 45-second film “Ski Jump 2005” will be broadcast on television from 5 March.
Kiefer produced a 45-second film which will be broadcast on television from 5 March. The dramatic effect of this remake is naturally based very closely on the 1986 original. And this was also the director’s problem: “The difficult thing for me was to make a film which everyone already knows the end of, but still to maintain the tension,” explained Kiefer. He solved the problem quite brilliantly and devised the ad as a kind of duel between the ski jump and the Audi A6 as the challenger.
To make the commercial, the 40-strong production team was present on the set for at least a week in January 2005. But first of all the ski jump, which is located around 300 kilometres north of Helsinki, had to be brought out of hibernation. Previously, the Pitkävuori jump had not seen any action since 1994 when it was closed down. Repair work had started three weeks before the actual start of filming.
Keeping the car in the steeply angled position at the top of the jump, however, is rather less easy. As soon as it stopped it would immediately slide back down again. The A6 therefore had to be “held on to” at the top. “Safety first” was the underlying principle. To solve the problem, an ingenious system was fixed to the ski jump and to the bottom of the car. This “roll-back safety device” was fitted with three independent systems comprising an electromechanical brake circuit and two mechanical brakes (a rope clamp and two symmetrically positioned arrester hooks). The entire system was located on a steel baseplate and weighed around 65 kilograms. This “sled” was installed to the underbody of the Audi A6.
The Audi A6 4.2 quattro with 6-speed tiptronic that drove up the ski jump was otherwise a perfectly normal production version. Two minor exceptions: the automatic transmission was kept in first gear – the slight power loss that occurs when changing gear would have made it impossible to climb such a steep gradient – and the tyres’ six-millimetre spikes. Tyres of this kind are also used in rallying.
This is the signal for Bleck to start his breathtaking ascent into the sky. In first gear, at 4,200 revs per minute and at about 60 kilometres per hour, the A6 storms up the jump, taking the 80 percent gradient with incredible ease. Later Bleck was to say: “I could have gone faster, even at the steepest point.” Nine seconds later, Bleck arrives at the starting gate, 47 metres off the ground. He takes his foot off the accelerator and the car pitches forward like when braking hard. You can feel how the entire tower of the ski jump is vibrating. And the most important thing: the safety system takes effect immediately, the A6 is held safely in place on the steel cable.
Photos and text: © obs/Audi AG
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Eric Felber, Tel +49 (0)841 89 90703, email@example.com