Some days at work are just better than others. This is true if you work on a building site, in an office and even if you are a photographer. Now, I’m the first to admit that my job can be pretty kooshtie at times. I get to attend some of the best automotive events. I get to meet and work with athletes, drivers and riders that many consider to be heroes. I get to travel to some beautiful locations all in the name of photography. Some days it can be bit of a drag though. Driving across Latvia at 1 am for example, isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. So when I was approached to head out to the Balearic Island of Mallorca at the start of March for a shoot I of course said yes. When the project was explained to me, I jumped at the chance.
The idea was a simple one. Downhill longboarder Peter Connolly was aiming to set a fast time down a mountain pass. Then he was going to beat it by mechanical doping. He was going to ride in the slipstream of a Mercedes AMG A45 driven by two time BTCC champion Jason Plato. The Mercedes was less important than the tires. Plato’s chariot would have the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 at each corner to provide the adequate feel, response and most importantly enough grip to get down the hill quickly and safely.
This wasn’t just any hill either. Sa Calobra – or the cobra – is better known to those who prefer pedal power to horsepower. Used by the likes Bradley Wiggins and the rest of Team SKY as a preseason test ground, for some reason, they prefer to ascend this wondrous ribbon of tarmac. Rising 2000 feet over 6 miles this road is one of the most staggering engineering feats I have ever seen in the flesh. The prospect of heading down it on a longboard whilst in close proximity to a car giving it the beans, well, I’m not made of the kind of stuff. In the moments when the wind died I swear I could hear Pete’s balls of steel chiming beneath his leathers.
With the final preparations made, Pete was ready to make his first pass. It’s crazy to think that this was basically his toolkit.
For all it’s twists and turn, the sections of Sa Calobra that got really fast for Pete were the straights. I’m not sure how fast he was going, but faster than I’d like to fall at. Well greased bearings and a bit of gravity will go along way when you have a closed mountain pass to play with.
After a few more solo runs Pete had the feel for the road. The combination of slow speed hairpins coupled with high velocity straights fresh in his mind, it was time to add something to cut through the air in front of him.
It just so happens that Jason Plato was standing by and ready. Dunlop had provided the more than capable 376bhp and 350lb ft AMG A45 to clear a path for Pete’s run.
I’m the first to admit that when I heard there was going to be an AMG Merc tearing down the hill I was hoping for something more like the AMG E63 to tear round the corners shredding tyres and laying down smoke. The A45 however proved to be the perfect choice. 4 wheel drive, good brakes and good tyres were definitely what the doctor ordered for the task at hand.
It turns out that Jason Plato’s job was almost as difficult as Pete’s. He had to spend as much time checking his rear view mirror to make sure that Pete was close enough to get the benefits of the car cutting through the air, whilst looking where he was going, whilst driving off of the racing line so that Pete could see through the corners as they were approaching.
Both men took it the their stride though. Jason from his comfortably air conditioned cabin….
And Pete from his Dunlop branded Power Ranger outfit.
Needless to say, the plan worked. Hell if you don’t believe me, you can check the video above.