10 - 13 Feb 11
Surface:Ice and snow covered gravel
Most Recent Winner:Mikko Hirvonen (2011)
Sweden will continue as the curtain raiser to the World Rally Championship season with the only true winter rally of the year. But the 2011 edition of the legendary snow event will be more eagerly anticipated than ever before as it marks the beginning of an exciting era for the WRC with the advent of the new-generation World Rally Car and new tyre regulations.
While the cars have changed, the competitive route remains largely unaltered save for day one of the event when competitors will venture over into neighbouring Norway for a unique cross-border stage which runs in both countries, including a second pass under the cover of darkness.
The new Power Stage concept will also make its debut on Rally Sweden and will reward the fastest three drivers with bonus points.
Karlstad continues to host the event although the permanent service park will once again be located 85 kilometres away in the outskirts of Hagfors, which provides easier access to the forests of the Varmland and Dalarna regions where the bulk of the competitive action will take place. By utilising stages further to the north, it is hoped there will be a greater chance of sufficient snow and the requisite colder temperatures.
Those colder temperatures can be as low as minus 25 degrees centigrade. Despite the harsh conditions, fans flock to the stages in greater number to witness the spectacle of drivers charging through ice- and snow-coated roads at full speed, which can be achieved thanks to the metal studded tyres, which bite through the soft snow surface and into the hard-packed ground below.
As well as relying on their studded tyres, drivers make the most of the snow banks that line much of the route. They act as soft barriers and enable drivers to ‘lean’ their cars through the corners. However, they represent a major hazard when corners are taken too quickly with several drivers dropping vital time getting stuck or having their radiators filled with snow.
A stage straddling Sweden’s border with Norway plus the inclusion of the Power Stage, which will be televised live on TV10 and rewards 3-2-1 bonus points for the fastest three drivers, are the main changes to the 2011 event.