09 - 12 Feb 12
Surface:Ice and snow covered gravel
Most Recent Winner:Jari-Matti Latvala (2012)
Back in its traditional slot as round two of the season following Rallye Monte-Carlo’s return to the calendar, Rally Sweden will continue to spread its wings in 2012 with almost the entire competitive route on day one taking place in neighbouring Norway.
Running for a 60th time, the event will once again be based in Karlstad with the permanent service park housed 85 kilometres away at Hagfors airport, where fans can get close up to the rally cars on several occasions during the rally.
Featuring 360 competitive kilometres over 24 stages, 11 of which will be run twice, the rally, which gets underway with a superspecial stage at Karlstad’s trotting track, has undergone a number of changes for 2012.
The bulk of Friday’s stages will take place in Norway with a remote service halt in the town of Kongsvinger. The visit to Norway will stir memories of the country’s world championship qualifier, which last ran to great acclaim in 2009. Following a regroup in Torsby, back across the border in Sweden, crews will service in Hagfors before returning to Karlstad for a second run of the city’s superspecial stage.
Day two’s action includes classic stages such as Sagen, Fredriksberg and Vargasen, which features the famous Colin’s Crest jump, named in memory of the late Colin McRae. Saturday’s itinerary will also include a run through the Hagfors arena stage a short drive from the permanent service park.
Sunday’s stages take place around Hagfors and include runs through Rammen and Hafors. The Hagfors Power Stage will bring the action to a close. It’s the same stage as Varmullsasen in 2010. Measuring 15.42 kilometres in length, it could prove pivotal to the outcome of the rally.
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.