27 Jan 10
Swedish driver Per-Gunnar 'P-G' Andersson will make his return to the WRC in Rally Sweden next month, driving a Skoda Fabia S2000 in a battle he thinks could be the toughest of his career.
Andersson, 29, won the Junior World Rally Championship in 2007, and drove for the Suzuki World Rally Team in 2008, before making his most recent WRC appearance as a privateer in the 2009 Rally Norway. Driving a three year old Skoda Fabia WRC, P-G was one of the surprise stars of the event; winning two stages on day one and running fifth overall until a transmission failure forced his retirement on day two.
After a year away, Andersson told wrc.com he was targeting victory in the inaugural S-WRC event in Sweden, but was expecting a monumental fight. "I'm after the class win. Definitely. That’s the only reason I'm doing this," he said. "But I think the competition is going to be really, really tough this year. Probably the tightest ever if I compare with the Juniors or the P-WRC. I’d say there are five or six drivers who could win in Sweden."
In the S-WRC category Andersson, and co-driver Anders Fredriksson, will go up against an all-star field including former J-WRC champions Patrik Sandell (Skoda Fabia S2000) and Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta S2000). But it's another occasional WRC competitor who he's most concerned about. "I think Andreas Mikkelsen [in a Fiesta S2000] will be the toughest driver to beat," explained Andersson.
With a fortnight to go until the rally gets underway on 11 February, P-G, who lives near Karlstad, felt the weather conditions were looking promising. "It's been very, very cold since Christmas and we have had quite a lot of snow so it’s white and beautiful everywhere," he said. "The only problem is a lack of ice in the ground; it's just snow and gravel underneath. But today the temperature is around zero degrees, so the snow will melt a bit and pack down. As long as it stays like this I think it will be a perfect rally."
Andersson has yet to drive his - or any - Super 2000 car, but is confident a limited test programme will be sufficient. "I will do one day in the car the Sunday or Monday before the rally, which will be a new experience. Before that, I will do a local rally in my Mitsubishi this week, and I will do some more driving to get the speed up. After these, and the final test with the Skoda, I hope I will be prepared enough."
Beyond Rally Sweden, Andersson has no firm plans for the rest of the WRC season, but hasn't ruled out a full-time comeback. "I was wishing and hoping that I could enter the S-WRC this year, but at the moment my chances don't look too bright. For sure I'm still hoping to do more rallies beyond Sweden - that's the target."