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Sweden - 15-18 Feb 18

Posted: February 15, 2018 10:36 AM - 3636 Hits

Round 2 - 2018 World Rally Championship

Results: rally-base results

FIA JUNIOR WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP STARTS WITH THE SNOW OF SWEDEN

Posted: February 13, 2018 5:23 AM

Rally Sweden hosts the opening round of the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship next week with 13 of the sport’s most exciting young talents all doing battle for the ultimate reward – a rally win and an early lead in the race for one of the biggest prizes in motorsport.

For the first time since 2007, the Junior crews will have to master the art of winter rallying. Freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall has all but guaranteed perfect conditions and all eager to learn – and showcase – the unique skills required for ice and snow.

As one of the fastest events on the calendar, the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R2s will reach incredible speeds as the 364 steel studs on Pirelli’s Sottozero ICE tyres bite through the snow to capture grip on the hard ice below.

Opening their campaigns on home soil are Emil Bergkvist and Dennis Rådström – two young Swedes who know better than most how to tackle the snow-covered speed tests. Having contested the Swedish fixture on three previous occasions, Bergkvist is a past class victor while Rådström has local knowledge on side – hailing from the host town of Torsby.

Yet the pairing could face stiff competition from Ken Torn. Used to competing on the ice and snow of his homeland, Torn is the latest in a long line of Estonians keen to make an impact on the world stage and could well be the dark horse next week.

Speaking of dark horses, Tom Williams has been taking his preparations seriously. Spending the winter break at a rally school in Norway, he also sought advice from former Norwegian Rally Champion Anders Grøndal and contested the country’s Sigdalsrally where he secured a fine second place in class.

With the other competitors having limited experience of winter rallying, strategy may have to come into their game plan but no one can be discounted with the competition expected to be closer than ever.

Having contested Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi will be hoping that the experience holds him in good stead – drawing on the skills learnt from tackling the event’s challenging winter conditions.

Fellow Frenchman Theo Chalal will also be hoping that the wintry conditions of the Monegasque event play to his advantage – driving the stages as one of the much-valued Safety Crews last month.

Travelling all the way from New Zealand and Chile, David Holder and Eduardo Fernández will have to tackle the jet-lag as well as the cold, while Ireland’s Callum Devine will be looking to start 2018 in the same fashion as he ended 2017 – when he was crowned British Junior Rally Champion.

Having contested the Junior World Rally Championship last year, Terry Folb and Julius Tannert will be hoping that their experience holds him in good stead. While the two Italian crews, Lucas Bottarelli and Enrico Oldrati, will also be hoping for a strong start – drawing on the knowledge of their two experienced co-drivers.

Junior WRC Manager, Maciej Woda, said:
“We’re starting the season with a big challenge next week. We’ve not seen a snow rally in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship since 2007 and it looks as though the conditions will be fantastic this year.

“Reports from the region suggest a good layer of ice with plenty of snow banks – perfect conditions for our crews to learn the art of winter rallying. And with the Fiesta R2 and the performance and strength of Pirelli’s Sottozero ICE tyres, they’ll have everything they need to master the demanding conditions.

“For sure the Scandinavians will all be pushing for victory. For those with limited experience of winter rallying, strategy will really come into play and they’ll have to focus on securing as many points as possible before the championship turns to their more preferred surfaces.

“We’re expecting the championship to be extremely close-fought this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a surprise or two in Sweden. I’m certainly looking forward to it and to seeing who best masters the challenge.”

DRIVER COMMENTS

    Emil Bergkvist said:
    “It feels great to start the season at my home event and it looks as though the competition will be really strong this year. To get used to driving an R2 car again, I completed a test with the Fiesta on snow and it felt really good. I got a positive surprise when I got behind the wheel of this car.”

    Luca Bottarelli said:
    “I was able to get quite familiar with the Fiesta R2 in Krakow last month. There might not have been much snow on the road, but it was a good opportunity to get to grips with the car. My experience on icy roads is quite limited, so my goal is to show an improvement from stage to stage. It won’t be an easy start, but I’m confident that we can improve throughout the season.”

    Theo Chalal said:
    “Rally Sweden is unique in the championship and represents a real challenge for anyone not accustomed to winter rallying. The Nordic drivers will be fast here, so I am viewing it as an opportunity to gauge how quickly I can learn and progress. I am aware of the opportunity this championship presents, and I want to learn and discover as much as possible.

    “I have tried to be methodical in my preparations this year and was able to take part in Rallye Monte-Carlo as a Safety Crew last month. It was a good chance to get a feel for the environment at this level, and also to feel some snow under my wheels! I received support from Stephane Sarrazin and Laurent Clutier to help refine my driving technique on winter roads which was really informative.”

    Callum Devine said:
    “We managed to get some good seat time with the Fiesta R2 in Krakow last month, but this will be my first time properly driving on snow. There’ll be an element of the unknown, but we plan to make the most of the event – getting though all of the stages and learning as much as we can. It will be a big challenge, but one that I am looking forward to.”

    Emilio Fernández said:
    “Snow is not a terrain that I know so we need to drive a clever rally next week – using the event to get good experience of the Fiesta R2 as well as the team we’ll be working with throughout the year.

    "We aim to complete the full rally and gain as many points as we can ahead of the more familiar surfaces. In preparation, I’ve also done some simulator driving on snow – hopefully the virtual experience will look like the real one!”

    Terry Folb said:
    "Our ambitions for Rally Sweden are to be able to fight at the front. There are several Nordic drivers so the competition will be really strong and it’s an event that I need to discover. For the championship, a podium would be a good result.

    “To be best prepared for the challenges ahead, I have completed some tests on snow and ice. I have also watched a lot of on-board footage to see how the top drivers tackle this surface."

    Jean-Baptiste Franceschi said:
    “It’s a dream come true to start this amazing event. Of course it won’t be easy and we will have a lot to discover about this surface and about the studded tyres, but I am really looking forward to it. I want to say a huge thanks to the French Federation for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to participate in this fabulous championship where it’s possible to win something really interesting.

    “To prepare for this event, I competed at Rallye Monte-Carlo which was an awesome experience. I also had a test day in Poland where I discovered the car on gravel. There was no snow, but it was a really great experience and I’m really looking forward to starting this rally.”

    David Holder said:
    “We’re really excited about the challenge of tackling our very first snow rally next week. Naturally, we’ll have to take a more conservative approach to this one and be realistic in our expectations. There’ll be some strong competition, and a clean rally will be key to a successful finish.

    “We made the journey from New Zealand last week so I can say that I am already used to the cold. After testing the Fiesta with the M-Sport team in Krakow, we headed to Norway for a small stint on an ice lake to get a feeling for what lies ahead. Our preparation has been good, but I know that there will be plenty to learn next week.”

    Enrico Oldrati said:
    “With no experience competing on snow, Rally Sweden will be a tough opener to the season. In Italy, we don’t have anything like this event but I have been trying to improve my knowledge about how to drive a two-wheel-drive car on snow.

    “My plan for the rally is to improve with every stage and bring the Fiesta to the end without incident. This is a fantastic opportunity for me, and I want to thank my family for making it possible.”

    Dennis Rådström said:
    “Ever since I was a little kid I have dreamed of competing at Rally Sweden and this year the conditions are going to be really, really nice – it’s a dream come true! My aim is to thoroughly enjoy this opportunity – to have fun and to do my best on every stage.

    “Having done a lot of testing, and two rallies here in Sweden, I’m feeling well prepared and hoping to challenge at the top of the field. Let’s see what we can do.”

    Julis Tannert said:
    “First of all, I’m happy to start my second season in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship and want to thank my partners for this opportunity. We recently had a test in Finland to get a feel for the studded tyres on snow and, during the winter break, I have been improving my fitness so as to be best prepared for the year ahead.

    “Rally Sweden will be a new adventure for me. I’m sure that the conditions will be perfect next week and that the competition will be extremely strong, but I plan to use all of my experience from last year and hope to fight for the podium.”

    Ken Torn said:
    “My mission next week is to deliver a clean rally and a strong performance that will allow us to fight for the win. We’ve competed on this surface before, and we’ve just completed a good test on snow so I’m feeling well prepared and ready for the challenge.”

    Tom Williams said:
    “I honestly can’t wait to get the season started at Rally Sweden – the conditions look fantastic with meter high snow banks! I spent the winter break working at John Haughland’s winter rally school in Norway. It was a fantastic opportunity which meant I was able to learn a lot about how to drive on the ice and snow. I’m really looking forward to next week and hope to have a smooth rally with some good mileage under my belt.”
RALLY SWEDEN ENTRY LIST
    Emil Bergkvist (SWE) / Ola Fløene (NOR)
    Luca Bottarelli (ITA) / Manuel Fenoli (ITA)
    Theo Chalal (FRA) / Jaques-Julien Renucci (FRA)
    Callum Devine (IRL) / Keith Moriarty (IRL)
    Emilio Fernández (CHI) / Joaquin Riquelme (CHI)
    Terry Folb (FRA) / Christopher Guieu (FRA)
    Jean-Baptiste Franceschi (FRA) / Romain Courbon (FRA)
    David Holder (NZL) / Jason Ronald Farmer (NZL)
    Enrico Oldrati (ITA) / Danilo Fappani (ITA)
    Dennis Rådström (SWE) / Johan Johansson (SWE)
    Julis Tannert (GER) / Jürgen Heigl (AUT)
    Ken Torn (EST) / Kuldar Sikk (EST)
    Tom Williams (GBR) / Phil Hall (GBR)

Four MPart Mirages line up for Rally Sweden

Posted: February 13, 2018 5:22 AM

Swedish manufacturer of the R5 specification Mitsubishi Mirage MPart AB, is pleased to confirm that four of its cars will line up in Karlstad for the start of the forthcoming Rally Sweden, round two of the FIA World Rally Championship and the only winter rally in the calendar.

The event takes place from 15th - 18th February and will mark the first time these cars built just 100kms away in Örebro, have taken part in their home WRC event.

The MPart Mirages will run in the National 4 Class, which is a category for nationally homologated cars in Sweden that encompasses cars built to FIA specifications but where they’re global homologation has lapsed or they are yet to be homologated.

The four Mitsubishi Mirage crews entered are all from Sweden:

    #97 Robert Blomberg (Trollhättan)/Lars Andersson (Trollhättan)
    #98 Joachim Carlström (Rockneby)/Jörgen Norman (Torsås)
    #99 Anders Karlsson (Säffle)/Björn Nilsson (Karlstad)
    #100 Sune Larsson (Hörby)/Håkan Oddshammar (Lund)
Designer of the R5 specification Mirage and owner of MPart AB Tomas Weng said:
“It’s great to see four of our cars taking part on our home round of the WRC. It means a lot to us as a business and it will be interesting to see how the cars perform. Living where we do, our cars have covered a considerable number of miles in winter conditions, so we’re expecting that the Mirages will prove to be reliable and competitive.”

The event starts on Thursday evening in Karlstad, with the now traditional super-special spectator stage at the trotting track. The route then heads north and into the forests for Friday’s seven stages, with four in Norway, two that cross-cross the border and the other at Torsby that finishes right next to the service area.

A further eight stages - all in Sweden - are scheduled for Saturday, the day concluding with another visit to the Karlstad trotting track and a Sprint stage at Torsby. Sunday - the final day - comprises three stages, with a grand finale that features the Power Stage and finish ceremony at Torsby service park.

Follow the progress of the four MPart Mitsubishi Mirages throughout the event on social media:
    Facebook: @MitsubishiR5Official
    Twitter: @MitsubishiR5

THE C3 WRCS HEAD FOR SWEDISH WINTER WONDERLAND

Posted: February 9, 2018 10:03 AM

The second round of the world championship and the only event on the WRC calendar exclusively contested on snow and ice, Rally Sweden is something of an exercise in tightrope walking. To bolster its efforts to perform well in Scandinavia, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT is entering a third C3 WRC for Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen, in addition to the usual crews of Kris Meeke – Paul Nagle and Craig Breen – Scott Martin.

A BALANCING ACT

It could be said that Sweden is to rallying what the Winter Olympics is to skiing: an iconic, unmissable event and the ultimate test in winter conditions, where the speeds reached are at least as high as the skill levels required behind the wheel. Long the preserve of the Scandinavian drivers, their dominance at the event was stopped for the first time by Citroën and the Loeb-Elena crew (Xsara WRC) in 2004. An achievement matched by only one other non-Nordic drive since. Needless to say, Nordic drivers still have an advantage on paper, particularly due to their greater experience in these specific grip conditions. And this is why it is important for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT to have one in its line-up for this event, as Mads Østberg joins Kris Meeke and Craig Breen, the team's usual standard bearers.

The Norwegian knows Citroën well, having scored seven podiums as a works driver for the team between 2014 and 2015. In Sweden, his reputation is not only limited to his gravity-defying leaps over Colin’s Crest, the famous jump on the Vargasen stage, since he has also finished as runner-up in 2011 and claimed four other podium finishes since then (3rd in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016). However, Kris Meeke and Craig Breen can equally make a good case for them building on the haul of points racked up by the team in Monte-Carlo. Kris was among the frontrunners on only his third appearance at the event in 2016, whilst Craig has competed here five times – his best result being fifth place in 2017 – and really enjoys the specific difficulties of this very unusual event.

A MORE TECHNICAL COURSE FOR 2018

This year, just under a quarter of the course has been changed compared with last year's event. However, only a little over five kilometres of the Torsby stage are completely new, whilst the ten or so different kilometres on Hagfors, as well as the Torntop stage, were already used in 2013 and 2014 respectively. One significant new element, however, is the large snow banks that look set to line the stages this year. This is likely to affect not only the width of the roads but also the angles at which the cars tackle the corners, and therefore the pace notes… In recent years, mild weather during the rally has meant crews have become used to avoiding the packed snow lining the roads. But this time, they will need to make greater use of the snow banks in order to exit the corners with as much speed as possible. It will be a great challenge, where experience may play a key role, and which should provide plenty of excitement and action!

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Given the speeds reached, you need confidence behind the wheel to produce fast times in Sweden. The purpose of the tests currently being held is to get our crews in the best possible shape for the rally, whilst taking advantage of road conditions that are closer to those we will encounter next week. With the addition of Mads Østberg, who has five podiums at this event, we have certainly strengthened the team, especially as experience is critical here given the very limited number of kilometres covered on this surface every year. I also have high hopes that Kris, who was fighting at the front in 2016, and Craig, who knows the event well, can show just how much our C3 WRC has improved since last year's rally."

Christophe Besse, Technical Director
"Since February 2017, a lot of work has been done on the suspension geometry and the damper system, torque distribution between the axles, and the set-up of the centrally-controlled differential. These changes have already proven effective on gravel. The aim, therefore, will be to do the same thing on this unusual course, where you need to be on the pace straight away because the gaps are always very small. We will also need to see what influence the starting order has on the times. Our four days of testing have been organised in such a way that Mads runs third, after Kris and Craig, so that he can use their basic set-up to get his bearings in the C3 WRC as quickly as possible. Kris and Craig will then drive again so that they can then potentially take advantage of his specialist feedback."

Kris Meeke
"It looks like we going to get perfect winter conditions this year and like all the WRC drivers, I can't wait to get started! In the last few seasons, with a limited amount of snow, you had to be very cautious or risk getting stuck in a snow bank after the slightest impact. The snow banks seem to be bigger and more compact this time around, so we'll undoubtedly be able to drive more aggressively and use the banks more, although we may need a bit of time to get used to that. In any event, it's an exciting challenge that I'm going to try and tackle with the same sensible approach as in Monte-Carlo."

Number of appearances at the event: 4
Best result: 7th (2015)

Craig Breen
"Between the start and end of last season, the C3 WRC made a lot of progress on gravel, so I hope it'll be the same on snow and ice. Especially as Sweden is one of my favourite rallies, and one where I feel really confident. In fact, I had my very first race in a WRC here in 2014 and also made my maiden appearance in Sweden with Citroën Racing in 2016. After a difficult Monte, I'd love to get decent points on the board. And it looks like the road conditions will be perfect for this year's rally, with really solid snow banks that are forgiving if you make a relatively minor mistake."

Number of appearances at the event: 5
Best result: 5th (2017)

Mads Ostberg
"Rally Sweden is a special event for me and I have always been quick here, so I'm very happy to have this opportunity to rejoin the team. I'm hoping to make the most of the shakedown at Satory and then the day of pre-event testing to adapt quickly to the C3 WRC. In any case, I'm already up to speed in these conditions, having contested two winter rallies in Norway, the second of which I won. With the bigger snow banks this year, the roads are likely to be narrower and more technically demanding, so perhaps we Scandinavians may be able to take advantage of our greater experience in conditions like these."

Number of appearances at the event: 11
Best result: 2th (2011)

KEY FIGURES

19 timed stages covering a total of 314,25 km
23,9 % of the competitive distance is different to 2017
1 win claimed by Citroën and the Loeb-Elena crew at Rally Sweden (2004 in a Xsara WRC)
137,8 kph average speed on the quickest stage contested this time last year

A RALLY, A CHALLENGE

Looking after your studded tyres

Two centimetres narrower that their gravel equivalent, and a full five centimetres narrower than the tarmac version, Michelin's "Sweden" tyre mainly stands out due to the 384 studs glued into drilled holes on the tyre tread. The studs provide such a high level of grip that at equivalent speeds, the braking distances are the same as on dry tarmac! The challenge in Sweden therefore consists of taking great care of these twenty millimetre-long spikes, which protrude around seven millimetres from the tread blocks. The Scandinavian rally is also one of the few events where taking two spare wheels, especially on the second pass when gravel begins to appear and lines form, actually helps performance. The challenge is to switch tyres at the right moment, so that the studs wear out evenly, and avoid having an uneven tyre set-up.

CITROËN SECRETS

Kevin Struyf, race engineer, recalls…

"I remember the 2014 Rally Sweden – it was only Mads Østberg's second race in the team and I was his race engineer. We were expecting a lot from his expertise on this event and we had prepared well by taking part in the Mountain Rally in Norway, in addition to pre-event testing. Discussions proved to be constructive and we had made quite a few changes based on his feedback, especially to the differential set-up. Mads gradually improved throughout the rally, finishing strongly on the Sunday to take a fine third place, just 5.9s behind the runner-up. He also set two fastest times, one on the Torntop stage that is back on the itinerary this year and one on the Power Stage!"

M-SPORT FORD READY FOR A CLASSIC RALLY SWEDEN

Posted: February 9, 2018 9:57 AM

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are ready to tackle the frozen stages of Rally Sweden – fielding three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs on the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Ready to take the fight to their rivals, Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen have completed a comprehensive test session and are poised to turn Värmland’s winter wonderland into a winter thunderland next week.

RALLY SWEDEN LAND OF ICE AND SNOW

Months of wintry weather and freezing temperatures have paved the way for a classic Rally Sweden – high snow banks and a thick layer of ice setting the scene for another thrilling encounter.

As one of the fastest events on the calendar, the Ford Fiesta WRCs will reach mind-blowing speeds as Michelin’s studded X-Ice North 3 tyres bite through the snow to capture grip on the hard ice below.

Leaning on hard-packed snow banks, the drivers guide their cars through corners but lean too hard and they risk becoming victims of the unforgiving terrain – ensnared in the snow with nothing but a shovel and the strength of the spectators to set them free.

As the crews adapt their driving to combat the unique nature of the event, the Swedish fixture has always been one for the brave. The action kick starts with plenty of power slides at the popular Karlstad Super Special before a flurry of popular speed tests in the forests of Sweden, and Norway.

Some classic stages not used since 2013 are returning to the itinerary, but the signature stage remains Vargåsen and the legendary Colin’s Crest where Eyvind Brynildsen jumped his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 a massive 45 metres in 2016.

MALCOLM WILSON TEAM PRINCIPAL

M-Sport Ford have enjoyed much success at Rally Sweden, but Team Principal Malcolm Wilson knows that the competition will be stronger than ever this year. Having secured six victories on the snow-covered stages, the Swedish fixture remains the team’s most successful event on the current FIA World Rally Championship calendar and the team will be hoping to give the Scandinavians a run for their money next week.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
“Early reports suggest that we’re in for a classic Rally Sweden with plenty of snow and plenty of action out on the stages. We completed a comprehensive test with all three crews earlier this week and they all came away with a good feeling, so let’s see what we can do.

“We’re expecting the competition to be extremely strong and we know that the Scandinavian drivers will be on top form, but we also have three very strong candidates. Sébastien has won the event three times and Elfyn is also a previous Rally Sweden winner having out-performed the locals as part of the WRC 2 category in 2016.

“Then there’s Teemu. This is his first snow rally with the Fiesta WRC, and only his third overall, so we can’t expect too much from him. But the Finns have always been quick here and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him secure another strong result.

“The scene is set for another epic battle and we’re certainly hoping to be in the mix for at least a podium. If we can secure another strong haul of points for our championship defence, we’ll leave Sweden very happy indeed.”

OGIER AND INGRASSIA THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS

With three Rally Sweden victories to their name, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are the most successful non-Scandinavians in the history of the event – their number of wins only bettered by that of Stig Blomqvist, Marcus Grönholm, Björn Waldegård and Jari-Matti Latvala.

With near-perfect conditions expected next week, the pairing could be disadvantaged as the first car on the road – sweeping a clean line through the fresh snow for the cars behind. But the Frenchmen are never to be discounted, even when the odds are stacked against them.

Previous starts: 8
Best result: 1st (2013, 2015 and 2016)

Sébastien Ogier said:
“It looks as though we are in for a true winter rally next week with everything needed for a classic Rally Sweden. Reports from the region suggest that there’s a good ice base and high snow banks which is everything a driver wants to hear ahead of this event.

“In those conditions, we can reach incredible speeds and lean the cars on the snow banks to help guide us through the corners. It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s not without its challenges.

“There’s certainly an art to driving on snow and you need to be precise. You have to judge the strength of the snow banks perfectly and – with more snow than previous years – there could be a lot of work to do on the Pacenotes.

“As the first car on the road, we’ll also have to wait and see what the conditions are like and we’re certainly not hoping to see any fresh snow on Friday.

“We got the season off to a great start last month, but we all know how strong the competition is and we’re expecting it to be even stronger next week. The Scandinavians are always strong here, but we plan to give them a hard time and secure another strong haul of points for our championship defence.”

EVANS AND BARRITT
SIXTH IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP

Elfyn Evans may have limited experience of winter rallying, but the Welshman knows what it takes to win at Rally Sweden – out-performing some of the region’s most promising young talents to secure victory as part of the WRC 2 category in 2016.

This year, he and Barritt will be looking to improve on their career-best sixth place through the snow-covered stages and will have every chance of doing just that.

Previous starts: 4
Best result: 6th (2015 and 2017)

Elfyn Evans said:
“Rally Sweden is an event that everyone looks forward to. On a classic Rally Sweden – like what we’re expecting this year – we can reach incredible speeds and if you get it right it’s easily one of the most enjoyable rallies on the calendar.

“The feeling on snow isn’t a million miles away from driving on gravel, but there are certain techniques that we’ll need to adapt and it can take a bit of getting used to at first.

“Vision can often be a challenge – particularly if there is a lot of fresh snow making it difficult to read the road ahead. Our Pacenotes and recce are going to have to be spot on, but we’re ready for it and really looking forward to it.

“There’s something of a score to settle after Monte where we were capable of achieving more than we did, so let’s see what we can do in Sweden.”

SUNINEN AND MARKKULA
THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula will make a welcome return to the Ford Fiesta WRC at next week’s Rally Sweden, and have every chance of delivering another strong result behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta.

Aiming to emulate the Finns who have long prospered on the frozen stages, Suninen could well be one to watch. A later road position could work in his favour, and the team are eager to see what he can deliver on snow.

Previous starts: 2
Best result: 10th (2016 and 2017)

Teemu Suninen said:
“We’ve just completed some good test kilometres in Northern Sweden which went really well. I’ve not driven the Fiesta WRC since last year’s Rally Finland, so that gave us a chance to get familiar with the car and we’re now feeling well prepared for the start of the rally.

“It would be amazing to challenge for a podium again. Perhaps that is a realistic goal, but we would have to deliver the perfect rally to achieve it. With eight events this year, we also have to consider a slightly different approach. In 2017, we were solely focused on our future and showing what we could do, but this time we also have to think about the team and scoring points for the manufacturers’ championship.

“In terms of the weather, there have been talks of freezing temperatures and high snow banks but we’ll have to wait for the recce before we can see for ourselves. Whatever the conditions, the speed is always high. On a rally as fast as this the seconds are harder to gain, and we will have to be on the pace from the very first stage.”

Yaris WRC drivers ready to star on Swedish snow

Posted: February 9, 2018 9:55 AM

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team heads to Rally Sweden (February 15-18) for the second round of the 2018 season with ambitions of a strong result on the snow and ice spectacular. The team already enjoyed a great start to the year with a double podium on last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo and now moves on to the scene of the Toyota Yaris WRC’s maiden victory last year in the hands of Jari-Matti Latvala, with the clear aim of repeating that success.

A founding round of the world championship in 1973, Rally Sweden is the only full winter rally on the calendar. Metal studs inserted into the tyres punch through the ice to find grip, while drivers use the snow banks to stay on the road by ‘leaning’ through the corners: provided there is enough snow to do it. Full winter conditions are expected this year.

A superspecial kicks off the action in Karlstad in Thursday night before much of Friday’s action takes place over the border in Norway. Saturday features classic Swedish stage names such as Hagfors and Vargasen, followed by a repeat of the Karlstad and a ‘sprint’ near the service park in Torsby. It’s there where the rally will end with the Power Stage on Sunday, after two runs of the Likenas test.

Quotes:

Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“Of course, Sweden is one of the rallies where we are strong and we had a good snow test in Finland, with all the drivers doing two days each. But there is always a question mark about everyone else: we know that we have improved, but how much has everyone else improved? That is the challenge. We’re expecting full snow conditions for the rally, which will be really nice for all the spectators. The drivers are happy with their cars: Jari-Matti won last year, Ott was closely challenging him, and Esapekka always has a good feeling on snow too, although of course his experience is less than the others. We feel quite confident but also realistic: there are always ways to improve.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“Sweden is one of my favourite rallies and actually the place where I took my first WRC victory 10 years ago – although it really doesn’t feel like so long ago! Compared to last year I think we have a better car: we concentrated on improving it on the slower and more technical sections during our test, and we definitely made a step forward in this area. Having said that, the competition is even tougher this year: within our own team as well. It’s going to be a really nice challenge in proper winter conditions and that of course helps me raise my own game; I’m confident we can fight for the win again. This weekend I’m also taking part in a local rally on snow in Finland with Juho Hänninen in my historic Toyota Celica, so this will be a lot of fun and the perfect way to prepare.”

Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“I’m still learning about the Yaris WRC, but after driving it on snow during the test I’m beginning to understand why Jari-Matti won in Sweden last year. For the first part of the rally we’ll just have to see how everything goes, but of course I’m hoping that we can fight for the podium and even the win. If the snow is heavy on the stages, which seems to be the case, our start position of second on the road won’t be ideal, but of course the weather can change. I’m just going to enjoy the weekend and do my best. There’s a lot more still to come.”

Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“It took me a few days to get over the disappointment of losing fourth place in Monte-Carlo on the last stage, but in the end, there were more positives than negatives. Up to that point, we had driven a very consistent rally, and my aim is to do the same in Sweden. We had a good test and did around 400 kilometres in two days, which was enough for me to get a good feel. Our car should be well-suited to Sweden but it’s a very different type of rally to Monte-Carlo: in Monte, sometimes you have to be brave by going slow enough, whereas in Sweden you need a different type of commitment. I didn’t compete on the rally last year, so I am missing a bit of experience, but snow is a surface I always feel comfortable on.”

Hyundai Motorsport Preview: Rally Sweden

Posted: February 9, 2018 9:52 AM

Hyundai Motorsport will be hoping to get its 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) back on track next weekend as it tackles the second round of the season, Rally Sweden.

Despite showing glimpses of potential in Rallye Monte-Carlo, the team left the Principality with a disappointing fifth place finish, as all three of its Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars ran into trouble over the course of the weekend.

Salvaging six stage wins and seven Power Stage points from the season-opener, the team is aiming for a more representative result as the WRC moves onto the snowy Scandinavian stages.

Three crews will fly the flag for the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team in Sweden. Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville will again compete in the #4 and #5 cars, while Hayden Paddon returns to take over the #6 car from Dani Sordo for this event.

Podium precedent

Both Neuville and Paddon have registered podium finishes in Sweden, finishing second in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Mikkelsen, meanwhile, twice visited the podium with his former team and will be aiming to replicate those performances in his first full snow event for Hyundai Motorsport.

The 19-stage rally will be a celebratory occasion for the Norwegian with Friday’s itinerary taking in six stages across the Swedish border in his native Norway.

All three crews prepared for the event with a three-day test in Kall, Sweden from 30 January to 1 February. Fresh snowfall made for ideal conditions with temperatures expected to remain sub-zero for the rally. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC will be fitted with studded Michelin tyres to tackle the frozen stages, which offer some of the fastest roads of the season.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We want to put the disappointment of Monte-Carlo quickly behind us, and effectively start our 2018 season in Sweden. While Monte offered a very particular rally with unpredictable conditions, we now face an entirely different challenge with the fast and frozen stages of Sweden and Norway. One thing was clear from the first rally of the new season – we can take nothing for granted. We are not going to be gifted good results; we will have to work for them. We aim to do just that at Rally Sweden. For Andreas, this is going to be a special event, with several stages on his home terrain. Thierry and Hayden have both scored podiums for us in Sweden in the past, so I think we have a strong crew line-up. We’re as prepared as we can be for whatever Rally Sweden holds in store.”

Young gun goes for it in WRC2

Rally Sweden will also mark the formal debut of Hyundai Motorsport’s Driver development Program (HMDP) in WRC2. Finnish driver Jari Huttunen and his co-driver Antti Linnaketo will take the wheel of a Hyundai i20 R5 for the first of selected rounds in this season’s competitive WRC2 category.

Sweden will act as a prelude for the youngster’s first full competitive season as an HMDP driver, and will be followed by Rally México in March. The wintry conditions offered by Rally Sweden will be a familiar feeling for the Finn. He will test in Sweden on 11-12 February to prepare for his first WRC2 event of 2018.

Nandan added: “It is an exciting moment for our HMDP as Jari and Antti prepare for the first of their WRC2 events this season. We have been working closely with them since last September to build up to this moment. Sweden should be a good first test for them, on snowy conditions with which they are confident, but at the same time knowing that the competition in WRC2 is immensely tough. All we want from them is to have a trouble-free weekend, to bring the car home and to gain valuable experience.”

WRC Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Mikkelsen secured second place in Rally Sweden 2014 and third in 2015 Norwegian crew have taken stage wins in all four rallies with Hyundai Motorsport

Mikkelsen said: “Rally Sweden is a very special event for me because of the opportunity we have to go rallying across the border into my home country of Norway. We have a lot of support from fans, family and friends. It’s a beautiful event and the only one we get to tackle completely on snow and ice with proper studded tyres. They give amazing grip and the feeling is unbelievable. We expect a good number of snow banks this year, so we will be able to explore the limits.”

WRC Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Neuville led for much of 2017 event, having built up a 43-second advantage before retiring Belgian crew claimed 2nd place in 2015, which remains their best result to date in Sweden

Neuville said: “We had good speed on the Swedish and Norwegian stages last year but unfortunately things didn’t end well when we were forced to retire on the penultimate day. This year, I am aiming to challenge once again for the win but with a far better outcome. Sweden is truly a unique event; the only one where we can compete with fully studded tyres for the complete rally. As one of the fastest rallies of the season, it’s an exhilarating one from inside the cockpit and for the fans lining the stages. We want to put on a good show and, most importantly, deliver a good result.”

WRC Crew Notes: Paddon/Marshall (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

First event for Paddon and Marshall since finishing third in Rally Australia Kiwi finished second in Sweden two years ago

Paddon said: “I can’t wait to get my 2018 season underway finally. It feels like a long time since we were competing in Australia. Sweden will be a fresh start for us. I have good memories from finishing on the podium two years ago, and I will be trying to repeat some of that performance. It was great to get re-acquainted with the car in testing recently. We were able to enjoy some outstanding winter driving conditions. More of that in the rally, as well as a decent result, would be the perfect start to my season.”

HMDP Crew Notes: Huttunen/Linnaketo (#34 Hyundai i20 R5)

First 2018 event for HMDP crew in competitive WRC2
Finns will compete in Sarrazin Motorsport–run Hyundai i20 R5

Huttunen commented: “I can’t wait to get started in Sweden, an environment where we feel comfortable. We have been working closely with the Hyundai Motorsport team in Alzenau since our appointment as the HMDP crew for 2018, and we have a two-day test before the rally week starts properly. Sweden is where we will have the chance to put into practice all that we have learned so far. 2018 will be a learning curve for us, but we want to have a solid start on the snow, and build in each of the events we take part this year. We know we are into the deep end with a lot of very quick rivals in WRC2. All we can do is our best, and aim for the finish.”

Entry List

Posted: January 31, 2018 6:16 AM

Entries Received / Rally Guide / Event Website

Posted: November 16, 2017 6:32 AM

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