Co-driver Ole Fløene had to seek medical attention on day two of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB after a bizarre incident in which he suffered a suspected snake bite.
The 47-year-old was helping driver Mads Østberg work on the duo’s Ford Fiesta RS before the second pass through Dyfnant on Friday afternoon when he believes his left hand was bitten.
“We were working on the car in a hurry and we needed to find some stones to stop it from rolling back,” he told wrc.com. “I saw a stone in a dry wall so I put my hand in and was fighting to get it out. I didn’t feel anything.
“After the stage I said to Mads that things didn’t feel right. I was getting cramp in my thumb and it was strange. It was starting to get worse and worse. When we got to Chester (the venue for one of the rally’s promotional events on Friday night) I wasn’t feeling well at all and my hand was so big.”
Fløene was confident the swelling would settle overnight, but when he and Østberg tackled Saturday morning’s opening stage, it was clear there was still a problem.
“Today, he (Ole) was strange from the morning. He didn’t behave normally. Even in the stages he struggled. He just didn’t have any rhythm as he was reading the pace notes which isn’t normal,” Østberg said.
“We talked about it and he tried to adjust it for the next stage but it just got worse and worse. At the end I asked how he felt and he admitted he wasn’t well. Then I checked his hand and saw two bite marks.”
Fløene saw a doctor at the Corris regroup midway through Saturday morning and he was given anti-inflammatory tablets to take. That helped Fløene’s symptoms to subside and he and Østberg were able to complete the remaining stages and ended the day in seventh place overall.
Although nobody has been able to confirm Fløene suffered a snake bite, M-sport World Rally Team driver Østberg is convinced that’s what laid his co-driver low.
“In my experience, if you’re bitten by a snake that’s how it looks. We have a snake in Norway that is poisonous but it’s not dangerous for humans. You maybe get a small fever and you’re a bit funny in the head. They were very similar symptoms. It’s bizarre,” he said.