07 - 10 Feb 13
Categories:WRC, WRC-2, WRC-3
Surface:Ice and snow covered gravel
Most Recent Winner:Jari-Matti Latvala (2012)
With the return of Rally Monte-Carlo to the WRC in 2011, Rally Sweden has gone back to its traditional slot of being the second rally of the year. It consists of 22 stages over a competitive distance of 339 kilometres with the start and finish in Karlstad and the permanent service park in Hagfors. Friday’s route is based in the Hagfors region, Saturday’s stages take place east of the town with the bulk of Sunday’s action taking place over the border in Norway.
Despite ambient temperatures dipping to as low as minus 25 degrees centigrade, 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 their 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.
One notable new aspect for 2013 is the inclusion of a historic rally immediately before the WRC event. This will run from 7-9 February and consists of 84 competitive kilometres. The historic rally will feature four classes (cars up to 1969, cars from 1970 until 1975, cars from 1976 until 1981 and cars from 1982 until 1985) with an exhibition class for cars built prior to 1990. Organisers expect cars such as the Audi Quattro, Ford Escort, Porsche 911, Saab two-stroke and Volvo 240 to take part.
There has also been speculation that Sweden could see the moment when VW breaks through, given the amount of testing they have done in Sweden, and the record of driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who could be going for his hat-trick. However he is playing down his chances of taking a win so early in the new team’s career. He says, “I love driving on snow and always enjoyed it in Sweden,” said Latvala. “I hope to be able to fight for the podium places in Sweden, that will be fantastic but we have to be realistic and we can’t pressurise ourselves too much.”