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Pioneer DJM 2000 firmware update to version 3 – nearly a Nexus!

This article details the benefits of updating the firmware on a Pioneer DJM 2000. It’ll also explain the differences between a DJM 2000 running the latest firmware, and a DJM 2000 Nexus. It should be useful if you are trying to decide whether to buy a DJM 2000 or a DJM 2000 Nexus, or if you already have a DJM 2000 and want to better understand the benefits of upgrading the firmware.

An introduction to the Pioneer DJM 2000

I recently acquired a DJM 2000 running version firmware 1.27. It’s about 5 years old, but in good condition. Still a very nifty piece of kit. My last mixer was a DJM 500 and the game has really moved on. From a purely non-musical perspective, consider that it has a touch screen and 6 network ports!

Pioneer DJM 2000 Rear Connection Panel

So a four channel DJ mixer. It can support turntables on two of the channels, and all channels support analogue and digital line in. It can perform the duties of a network hub between up to four CDJ devices, and even connect to two computers for seamless transitioning between DJs at a live event. It has a send/return loop and a midi interface. There’s a huge amount of potential with all this, which I won’t go into now, but suffice to say this hardware is ready to combine traditional live DJ duties with more creative musical experiences normally restricted to audio studios.

PIONEER DJM 2000 top view

From the top view then, this is more or less a traditional four channel mixer with an effects unit shoved in between channels 2 and 3 above the cross fader. So what does that touch screen do?

It handles administration, midi control, settings etc. At first it seems bizarre that a mixer needs this, but much as we now take games console internet updates as being completely usual these days (remember the initial weirdness of the PS3 being online?!), it makes sense. But it also allows for some live DJ uses:

7 band cross fader

Yes – chop two tracks together in seven chunks of the audio spectrum. Easy high-hat or kick drum swapping right there.

7 band cross-fader

Live effects control

Use one finger to quickly control the base frequency and oscillation period of any of the built in effects.

djm 2000 sidechain

Updating the firmware

See my guide on updating the DJM 2000 firmware. If your DJM 2000 is still running version 1.x, you’re in for quite an upgrade!

Benefits of firmware version 3

DJ benefits

  • Beat Slicer – a brilliant tool that allows the DJ to sample and remix on the fly. Great for creatives.
  • Improved side-chain effect – add a whole bunch of filters to the built-in side-chain and control these with a single finger on the touch screen. I saw a good example of this in use where the gate effect was triggered by the existing (old) track, and applied to the incoming (new) track. This fade in effect sounds great!

Engineering benefits

  • Peak Limiter – billed to “eliminate distortion and clipping even at club volumes”, that’s certainly good news given some of the DJs I’ve worked with…
  • Auto Standby – turns itself off after 4 hours of inactivity.

CDJ / Rekordbox benefits

  • Quantize effects – if you’re using Rekordbox, the mixer can use the BPM information to ensure that all the effects (including the awesome beat-slicer!) are locked in time with the underlying track.
  • Sync master – using the DJ link, the DJM 2000 can optionally enforce exact BPM matching between any or all CDJ 2000 NXS players.

What’s better about the Nexus?

All statements from here onwards assume we are comparing a DJM 2000 with firmware version 3.20 with a DJM 2000 Nexus running the same firmware. So far as I can tell, there are no feature differences. That makes sense, right? The differences must all be in the hardware.

The are some cosmetic changes. The three Effect Frequency potentiometers in the middle of the mixer have silver knobs on the Nexus. The row of beat selectors beneath them are lit by white LEDs on the Nexus (red on the Mk1). Meh.

In functional terms, the Nexus sports Pioneer’s “P-Lock” fader caps which cannot be easily removed and therefore are more likely to stay in place during enthusiastic use. Whether or not the Nexus also has the more durable fader assembly that sits at 90 degrees to the surface of the mixer so as to be less prone to damage due to spills and dust, I don’t know. Either way for studio use, neither of these advantages concern me.

The Nexus also has higher quality digital converters on its output stages. The Nexus has a 32 bit D/A converter. I can’t find that specification for the Mk1 so perhaps it is only 24 bit. Both sample at 96 kHz, have <0.004% distortion and have a 107 dB signal to noise ratio.

Conclusion

I’m entirely satisfied with my acquisition of a DJM 2000 Mk1 now that I’ve upgraded it to firmware version 3.20. The hardware improvements that come with the Nexus are mainly cosmetic, with only the improved D/A converter being something I might like – but that’s on a theoretical level; I can’t fault the sound as it stands.

I don’t have any CDJ players yet. The Sync Master feature suggests that if I do acquire some, I’m going to want to dig deep and get the CDJ 2000 Nexus players.

The whole topic of whether features like Sync Master and Quantise actually take the talent out of DJing is an interesting one. I can beat match. I’ve got a load of music on vinyl and I enjoy using my Technics. However I’m keen to focus on creating new blends and cuts. The longer I have to spend on the technicalities of beat matching, the less time and therefore enjoyment I’m going to derive from the more creative side of things. That’s my excuse for now, anyway!

Pioneer DJM 2000 / Nexus firmware update – how to

Note: I’ve done this using Windows 10 in January 2016.

Before we start here, if you want to know more about the DJM 2000 in general, take a look at my in-depth look at the mixer as a whole.

Begin by getting the mixer to display your current version. To do this, while the mixer is on, press and hold the Live Sampler button to the left of the touch screen.

Pioneer DJM 2000 version 3.2

Choose “Version Number” and it’ll display it. Naturally I didn’t take a photo before the upgrade when I was on version 1.27, but here’s the end destination – version 3.20!

Download the latest firmware updater – available for both PC and Mac. Just in case it is ever useful, I’m got a mirror copy of the Windows firmware updater for version 3.20 here.

Extract the zip file. Then we have to establish some kind of communication between the PC and the DJM 2000.

All the guides I’ve read suggest that the DJM 2000 should be connected directly to the Ethernet port of the PC you are using. Apparently it has its own DHCP server and will create a private network if you set your PC to look for a DHCP server there. I tried this and couldn’t get it to work. I’d like to think I know my arse from my elbow in that realm at least.

So instead I connected the DJM’s “Computer 1” port to my LAN while the mixer was off. I then held down both the beat effect and remix effect on/off buttons while switching the mixer on. My router accepted a DHCP request from the DJM and assigned it a local IP address. I could see that it was listening on port 58003. The mixer’s display said it was waiting to receive an update.

Then I ran the executable file in the downloaded zip file. I permitted network activity on any network to that application. It detected the mixer and uploaded the new firmware. The mixer presented a bar chart on its display which tracked progress.

DJM 2000 firmware update

After that, I turned it off and on again as instructed, and hey presto! Version 3 was loaded.

DJM 2000 loading firmware version 3

Now you’re on the latest hardware, I bet you’re wondering what you’re missing out on by not having a DJM 2000 Nexus! The difference might not be as great as you’d expect. Check out my summary of the situation.

Retro Rides Gathering 2014

Last weekend I journeyed off with some old friends for a weekend of curry and cars. What a weekend it was! Naturally I began proceedings on Saturday morning with more than a hint of a hangover, so put in a can of beans on toast and awaited the arrival of Ste, my taxi driver for the weekend.

Chariot

It was pretty cosy in there. And hot. And very, very loud. Ideal for a 120 mile journey on a Saturday afternoon.

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I did try many times to chat to Ste about the car. He told me all about it in great detail. Sadly it was like one of those nightclub conversations where I caught the odd syllable while nodding and smiling a lot. Suffice to say both the engine and Ste were happiest bouncing off the limiter and the car was rapid, light, and insanely grippy in the bends.

The other car in our convoy was an old favourite, Ian’s S50B32 powered E30.

Ian's S50B32 E30

Following a lively curry we stayed the night at the frankly terrible Mount Pleasant hotel in Malvern. I had a room with a view.

Room with a view

In the morning I topped up the can of beans and curry with an appalling fried breakfast and we jollied off to Shelsley Walsh, firing on all cylinders.

Then came the cars. Oh the wonderful, wonderful cars. Here’s my favourite.

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How good is that? What do you think about this?

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Then this.

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These all followed us into the car park within minutes. It was hilarious.

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What I enjoyed most was the obvious respect shown for motoring heritage.

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There’s nothing quite like an immaculate, unmolested MkI Golf.

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Okay okay. So it wasn’t all comedy. Let’s try and fix things, starting with that Golf.

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There were plenty of RS representatives.

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Ste summed up this amazing MkI Escort carrying an RS Cosworth lump very well: “This is a beautiful conversion. It’s really tidy and a great combination of car and engine. However it is four wheel drive, and that makes me very sad indeed.”

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Then I found RS500 number 159 and time stopped.

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Once I’d tidied myself up we headed to the paddock at the bottom of the hill sprint route, where some interesting kit was waiting for us.

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We walked up the hill. It was knackering. We should have taken a car like the sensible folk.

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Ian even stretched the old girl’s legs…

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But entertaining as that was, the comedy cars really were the highlight for me.

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This Volvo had a T5 engine under the bonnet. And one in the boot.

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This thing was powered by something insane – probably a Porsche engine. Went up the hill like a rat up a drain pipe!

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To finish off, some more photos from the paddock. All in all, an amazing day out. At £7.50 a ticket, great value for money and highly recommended!

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All 106 photos can be found here. Any photo both here and on the all photos page may be clicked to view a high resolution version.

Winter tyres vs 4 wheel drive

This is the second winter I’ve put winter tyres on the 330d. It’s also the second winter we’ve had the Impreza. Last winter it didn’t snow properly; this year, we’ve had a proper dollop!

Elsdon snow 2013-01

This situation quite naturally raised the question that I’m sure was on the nation’s lips this weekend: is four wheel drive on summer tyres better in the snow that rear wheel drive on winter tyres? Admit it, you’d love to know, wouldn’t you?!

Impreza snow scoopInitially I thought I’d take the Impreza out, so I brushed the snow from its nostrils. Last year we had a one inch coating of snow one morning and I recalled it being the superior vehicle. Certainly it’s a lot of fun. With all four wheels properly locked together with a mechanical centre diff, and a limited slip diff at the rear, it goes where it’s told and it oversteers on the way. Brilliant, brilliant fun. It doesn’t stop too well though. Or corner well off throttle.

I think the Impreza does better than many other cars on summer tyres because it’s light (just over 1,400kg) and the four wheel drive system locks the wheels together in such a way that even off throttle, wheels don’t slip as much as they would otherwise.

So let’s take out the BMW next and see how that goes.

330d snow 2013-01

Just look at those tyres! What a machine!

The 330d of course suffers from terrible snow woe. There’s really not much weight over the driven wheels, but the car is heavy at nearly 1,700kg. Changing velocity is therefore a challenge.

Winter tyres make an amazing difference. Pulling away isn’t as easy as it was in the Impreza, but after that, the 330d is better. Its ability to put the power down on snow and ice is simply remarkable when compared to its attempts on summer tyres. There have been years where we simply couldn’t get it off the driveway! That was easy enough today, but it also gathers pace very smartly indeed on snow.

Braking though, is where there can be absolutely no doubt that the BMW is the better car to be in. Despite a near quarter-tonne weight penalty, the 330d stops and even turns while stopping significantly better than the Impreza. It also has DSC (dynamic stability control) which means that if you don’t want to go oversteering everywhere, it’ll look after you. Not sure why you’d want to do that though.

So in conclusion, if I knew there was no one else on the road and I wanted to bop about on the snow for a bit of fun, I’d choose the Impreza. If I had to hill start on the snow, I’d choose the Impreza. For everything else, otherwise known as real-world driving, the 330d on winter tyres wins hands down. I can only imagine how good the Impreza would be given winter boots!

What is Intelligent Lighting?

Why worry about the light show?

The value of a good light show is hard to measure. Does it translate to more bar spend? Maybe. Does it mean people are likely to remember the gig for a long time to come, tell all their friends, and come again? I think so, and I believe I know how to do it.

Dub Optic NYE 2012 lights onTo pick an extreme, remember how you feel when the house lights come on at the end of a gig. It shatters your state of mind, reveals all blemishes on faces and décor alike, and is a pretty blunt instrument designed to make you naff off home.

Only the very best gigs can maintain a party with the house lights on. Dub Optic managed it on New Year’s Eve 2012, but it’s a tough stunt to pull, and therefore very rare.

In the middle of the spectrum, it’s dark enough to hide the grottier aspects of the evening, and there are some flashing colours of light. Maybe the colours change, or the beams move, with the beat of the music. That’s a bit more like it. To many people’s minds, that’ll do, but I don’t think it will.

That’s certainly not how it works at high quality productions, is it? Whether your benchmark is Lady Gaga, The Prodigy, Fabric, Metallica or Hospitality. You’ll find their productions to be visually stunning and stimulating from start to finish. How do they manage that?

laser and 'zap

Intelligent Lighting – the make-up of a high quality production

Co-ordination. Understanding of the music and the emotion it stimulates. The ability to translate this into a cohesive display of light and colour that’ll really enhance everyone’s experience at your event. A fantastic blend of technology and passion. The technology arrives in the form of automated lighting – lights that can be computer controlled to work together. The passion comes from the lighting engineering.

Some consider the technology alone to be Intelligent Lighting, but it isn’t, it’s just automated lighting. It can be programmed to move and change colour to produce a cohesive light show. The lighting engineer provides the passion and the talent to control the technology.

The result of all this is Intelligent Lighting.

Intelligent Lighting transforms a venue, inspires the acts, and unites a crowd. It’s essential for a party that blows everyone’s mind, that’s talked about for ages, and has punters queuing up for more next time.

So if you’re planning a party or event at any venue, from pubs to clubs, halls to fields, let’s talk about getting Intelligent Lighting working for you.

Steak stones

hot stones in cupboardFuelled by recent bloggery and yesterday evening’s delicious steaks, I want to tell you all about my steak stones. I was first introduced to the concept of cooking my own steak at the dining table by a visit to the Pistenklause on my first trip to the Nürburgring.

Essentially you get served chips, sauces and general sides as usual, and your steak arrives raw on a sodding hot stone. That way you get to cut it up and cook it on the stone, exactly as you like it. Not only does this add an extra slice of fun to mealtime, from the restaurant’s point of view it also means customers can’t complain their steak has been cooked incorrectly!

hot stone baseNow I like steak. Indeed I like having people over for dinner. Yet I fear I’ll cook their steaks incorrectly. So I’ve managed to acquire a set of six hot stones so we can play this fun game at home!

My stones came from Black rock home grill via eBay. Bizarrely that site doesn’t carry the stones I bought at the moment, but an eBay search for ‘hot stone steak’ does. Be warned: they weren’t cheap at over £200 for six, but they do indeed do the job.

hot stoneOperationally I do struggle to get the stones hot enough. While my (non fan assisted) gas oven will do it on full power if the stones are left on the top shelf for at least an hour, I face a couple of issues.

First, I can only fit four stones on the top shelf. So if there are more than four of us eating, some stones aren’t as hot as others. Second, steak should in my view always be accompanied by chips, and the cooking dynamics of my oven seem to change dramatically when there’s a pile of granite on the top shelf.

Exotic meats on hot stones All this said, once I’ve got organised enough to cook a big pile of oven chips and produce some stinking hot stones, this set really does provide a top-notch home dining experience. To add further to the experience, I ordered a bunch of exotic meats from Kezie Foods. That was a fun and tasty evening!

Getting back into sound and light

The last six months or so have seen me getting back into sound system and light show engineering. I emerged from school as a bit of a DJ with the requisite tools and a basic sound system, and while my primary profession turned out to be software engineering, I continued to grow my sound system and complemented it with a bit of lighting.

Neil, Ben, and 8 M2 boxesAt its peak, in around 2003, the sound system looked a little bit like this. I was also much thinner, as you can see. I actually built another couple of these bass bins for the more demanding drum and bass events we did. It was a nice little system. Around half that lot stacked up smartly enough for corporate functions, and the whole lot made a reasonable impression on Guildford’s old Civic Hall.

In the ten years since much has changed. In 2006 I sold all those speakers, my amplifiers and my lights. I put the money towards kicking off the E30 M3 project which established readers will know all about.

This rise and fall of interest coincided with that of a good friend of mine. Jon Evelegh, a school friend at first, had built up a rather larger sound system, and sold it as his primary interest turned out to be marine towage. So after his departure from the scene in 2002, and my complete sell-out in 2006, my world became a much quieter place. Recently however, that situation has been completely reversed.

In 2010 Jon re-acquired his system. Having overhauled it completely, and greatly increased its size, he’s ready for business. His system is custom built, unique, and devastatingly good in a way that’s very hard to quantify. On the date of this article, Jon’s RC1 Sound System has 1,132 Facebook likes. That’s an awful lot of people, many of whom are big name DJs, who follow his movements and just want to know more.

Last May, Jon asked me to come along to a gig he was doing down in Bournemouth. He was putting a 16 box system in a nightclub called The Old Firestation for a night called Dub Optic.

It was at this point I realised how much he had moved the game on. For a start, when I had a 10 box M2 system, Jon had a 12 box RC1 system. The RC1s were already considerably louder and generally more capable. Yet here he was wandering around with a 16 box system. Here’s a picture of me in front of a stack.

Neil in front of 8 box RC1 stack

Bass at head height! The sound was incredible. Not just powerful, but so musical and such high quality. I left that night knowing I’d just got the bug again.

Which brings us in a long, rambling way back to the present. I’m very excited by sound and light engineering again. I’ve built up another small sound system and a much larger light and laser show designed to accompany the RC1s on their journey to stardom. I’ll blog about my light and sound separately. I’ll probably blog more about RC1 in the future too come to think about it!

I’ll sign off though with a picture of Jon atop one of his 13 box speaker stacks at the London O2’s IndigO2 bar just before Christmas. That was quite the gig!

Jon on a 13 box RC1 stack

Solar PV installation – second review

Elsdon PV

In August 2011 I had a 3.9kW solar PV installation popped on the house roof. I was fortunate enough to get that in before the government reduced the Feed in Tariff (FiT) payout from its initial £0.43 per kW hour generated. That said, PV installation costs soon dropped along with the FiT, so by today’s standards I did pay over the odds for the installation.

I now have both a full year’s worth of data, from August 24th 2011 to August 23rd 2012, and a full calendar year of data for 2012.

Full year data

In the first 365 days of service my PV array generated 3,690kWh of electricity. That’s a significant contribution! Financially, with inflation and export top-up, it amounted to just shy of a £1,700 payout, or more than an eighth of the installation fee. I’m pretty pleased with that – I’ll have paid this off before I turn 40!

2013 review

The graph below shows house consumption in blue bars, and generated power as the green line.

2012 solar PV

The trends are pretty much as I’d expect. We consume a lot more power in the winter. I think December is higher than January and February mainly because I was around the house more, and doing quite a bit of work in the garage which required heating. The major step down in the spring and up in the autumn mark the points at which the storage heaters are switched off and on. We naturally generate a lot more power in the summer.

I’m sad to note that we don’t produce as much power as we consume even in the summer months. I’m certain this is because our hot water is stored in an immersion heater which is charged at night. This year I will investigate solar thermal water heating, although with such a massive PV array already in place, locating it may be quite a challenge!

Subaru Impreza Wagon Bass Enclosure

Wow it has been a long time since I’ve blogged! An email out of the blue has reminded me that I’ve done a bunch of work on the Impreza since I got it, and what better place to start than to cover the audio situation. I’m not looking for any car show worthy mega-bass, but I am of the opinion that the standard audio system leaves a lot to be desired at the lower end of the audio spectrum. Without fail I’ve been able to do a reasonable job of improving matters by adding a bass enclosure and reducing the low frequency burden on the standard speakers, so I chose to pursue that avenue again.

I started one sunny day in late March. Having owned BMWs for a decade my first hurdle was rather novel; the battery was in the engine bay! BMW tend to pop the battery in the boot for weight distribution purposes, so I haven’t needed to breach a bulkhead for a very long time. After much rummaging around in the passenger footwell having removed the fan assembly I found a boot to feed the power cable through and sealed that all up nicely.

Next I ran that power cable and the ‘stereo is on’ signal from the head unit to the boot.

Eventually I ended up in a position to test I could power and switch an amplifier in the boot.

That took a day – a considerable amount of faff breaching the bulkhead took the majority of this time. For my next trick I measured up, ordered a 12″ driver, and cut a sheet of 12mm thick MDF to size.

Looks pretty awful until it’s painted.

After some research I managed to find a 12″ driver with a relatively low mounting depth in Halfords of all places.

Guess what? It fitted a treat – “Slick” indeed! So I mounted it and the amplifier to the board.

The final product looks nice and smart, and of course is totally hidden when the upper boot floor is in place.

At first I wasn’t so excited by the result until I realised I’d got the polarity wrong. Once I’d corrected the phase it was obvious we were in business! A great, rounded sound, and no compromise at all on boot space and functionality. Result! :)

 

 

Wyedean rally 2012

Yesterday I made my annual trip to the Welsh border to see Alex and spectate at the Wyedean rally. I think this is the sixth consecutive year we’ve been, and the first time I’ve not taken a BMW.

I took the Impreza, and as you can see, we had another snowy event. I must now wax lyrical about that car’s practicality. We arrived in the snowy car park to find it full, so we simply made the car park bigger by parking on a frozen, muddy bit of bog-land on the edge. When we needed to leave I popped the car in reverse and it happily chomped back onto the then ice-rink-like car park, and we naffed off, leaving others in two wheel drive vehicles spinning their wheels and generally rueing the day they failed to acknowledge the glory of proper all wheel drive, no matter how unsubtle it may appear.

So, back to the rally. With well over 200 cars running at (we guess) 60 second intervals we figured two special stages should be about right for the day. We chose to spectate on Serridge 1 & 2, basically because we’re a bit lazy like that. As ever, we hunted down corners that were most likely to provoke mistakes. As it turned out we can’t have done such a good job as previous years, as we didn’t so much as need to push anyone, but we certainly saw some action.

Now here’s another testament to four wheel drive and good tyre choice. After a 360° spin, this Evo rolls backwards off the track. Both rear wheels are suspended over that ditch; the front wheels are on sheet ice. Did it need pushing? No. They just boiled it up, and the Evo dragged itself forward on its belly panels to the point where the rear wheels could get a good purchase on the edge of the ditch, whereupon it leapt out, ripped up the ice and shot off back on track.

Even so, my real heroes are of course those who manage all this, quickly, with just rear wheel drive. Legends, one and all.

In the afternoon we carefully located a really slippery 90° corner. It didn’t disappoint!

I’m annoyed that – yet again – I took too many stills and not enough video. The juniors and classics run though the course first, but then the open competition come through. The top seeds – cars potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds – come storming through the forest like monsters. It starts with popping and cracking exhausts in the distance, escalating rapidly to a full roar accompanied by dump valves hissing, straight-cut gears whining, tyres scrabbling, hot brakes, flaming exhausts and general rage. Car 21, a Lancer Evo IX, sounded absolutely terrifying and only after it had passed it occurred to me to take some video. Sadly by then the real animals had been and gone, but hopefully this selection gives a good idea of the atmosphere.

Here’s a wonderful bit of RWD from a MkII Escort. Note I’m silent during filming, but one of the other spectators was clearly getting a bit nervous!

And now an Impreza turbo demonstrating superior traction up the hill, but perhaps a little too much pace into the corner.

An Impreza digging itself out of a small ditch:

And finally, taken from slightly further round the corner, a general demonstration of the ice-rink conditions competitors had to handle:

Overall a very interesting (and cold!) day out. 45 miles of special stage in the forest on mud, snow and ice. I was fascinated to learn that while the winner was a WRC Focus, and second place went to a Lancer Evo, third place was awarded to a 1.4l Vauxhall Nova, proving that the conditions really were a playing field leveller.

All my stills from the day can be found here – note that’s a 40MB page though. ;)

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