Loose surface specification but engineering solutions required to make engines work at peak performance in unrelenting cold.
Skinny tyres are fitted with about 380 tungsten-tipped steel studs to bite into the frozen roads. Each stud is 20mm long and weighs 4g. However, just 7mm is exposed, with the rest inserted into the rubber to provide a strong anchor.
Shovels are mandatory in case competitors have to dig their cars out of snow.
First run in 1950 when it was called the Rally to the Midnight Sun as it was held in summer. It became a winter event in 1965.
It featured in the inaugural championship in 1973 and has been dominated by Scandinavians, who won every year until 2004 when Sébastien Loeb broke the mould. Sébastien Ogier is the only other ‘outsider’ to win.
Stig Blomqvist and Marcus Grönholm top the roll of honour with five wins each.
What’s new for 2014
Due to a clash with the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the rally runs from Wednesday to Saturday.
Stages in Norway will be held during the first leg rather than the last day as in 2013.
Colin’s Crest in Saturday’s Vargåsen stage. As a mark of respect for the late Colin McRae an award is made for the longest jump here. The record is 37 metres, shared by Ken Block and Marius Aasen.