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Weather relief of
Rally Sweden boss

Rally Sweden boss Glenn Olsson has spoken of his relief at the last-gasp freeze that saved last weekend’s second round of the FIA World Rally Championship from being scrapped.

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Just four days before Thursday’s start, he faced the prospect of cancelling the WRC’s only pure winter round as a big thaw turned the frozen roads into a muddy mess.

The cost of repairing roads damaged by crews using studded tyres on gravel, allied to safety concerns over competitors driving on patchy ice with tyres which had lost their studs, meant a weather-enforced cancellation looked likely for only the second time in the event’s history.

However, freezing temperatures and up to 10cm of snow saved the rally after organisers delayed the recce for 24 hours and cancelled eight special stages.

“The weekend before the rally were terrible days. We had no forecast giving us cold degrees during the event and didn’t see how this could work,” admitted Olsson.

Unseasonal weather threatened Rally Sweden

“On Sunday morning the first forecast came in saying it would be cold and we started working to find a route that could be used. We had our teams out on the roads checking them and giving us information what roads we should and couldn’t use.

“We built an itinerary and had meetings and discussions with the FIA and WRC Promoter. We took a final decision on Monday together with the teams that we should do this.”

Olsson’s team received praise from competitors for the effort they put into making the event run, which included regrading roads through the night after the recce to flatten ruts in advance of the freeze.

“It’s almost hard to understand how difficult the situation was during the recce. We knew if the cold came it would work, because the roads freeze fast during winter.

“On Friday morning I heard the first reports on WRC Live radio from the drivers that they were happy and that was the first time I felt it would work. The live TV stages on Saturday and Sunday looked great, but we had so much luck,” he added.

Olsson also paid tribute to the people who ensured the event happened.

“In total, 4,000 people worked during the weekend and so many worked day and night to make it happen. We were lucky we had the snow because it changed the whole atmosphere in the forests. It couldn’t be a happier ending,” he said.

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