Umeå sits on Sweden’s east coast, more than 600km north of capital Stockholm, and has a strong sporting heritage. It was named the country’s top city for sport twice in the last three years.
It beat off challenges from Östersund and Luleå during an intensive 12-month search headed by Rally Sweden CEO Glenn Olsson. Uppermost in his mind was that the FIA World Rally Championship’s only pure winter fixture could guarantee snow and ice-covered roads.
“A more snowsafe region further north is a basic requirement and being able to provide historical weather data was central to the decision,” said Olsson.
Video: Rally Sweden 2020
“Umeå’s strengths, in addition to a stable winter climate, include good hotel capacity in combination with service park location and HQ at the Nolia trade fair area, a vibrant business community and the potential to attract plenty of fans.
“Östersund and Luleå also presented strong bids and above all a great commitment, but on the whole Umeå is a more attractive concept for Rally Sweden.”
The area boasts more than 15 different special stages within a 50km radius of the city which have been previously been driven in national championship rallies.
Since the start of the WRC in 1973, Rally Sweden has been based in Värmland and Olsson said it was a ‘great sadness’ to leave the region.
“Sweden is one of very few countries that has been involved since 1973 when the World Rally Championship started and Värmland’s great commitment and knowledge have been crucial in this.
“All officials and other enthusiasts who have put in a lot of effort and commitment over the years should feel proud that we have managed to keep Sweden’s place in the World Championship. Despite all the challenges over the years, the FIA and WRC Promoter see the potential in Umeå as a new host city,” he added.
An extended agreement with WRC Promoter after 2022 is not yet in place as some details remain to be agreed, but both parties are confident it will be signed shortly.
“Winter events are one of the WRC’s biggest challenges and Sweden has been a cornerstone winter event since the beginning of the championship,” said WRC Promoter’s events director Simon Larkin.
“We have great hopes for the future commercial and sporting development of this new chapter for Rally Sweden in Umeå, and have nothing but praise for the hard work put in to make this happen. Värmland has been such an amazing host for so many years and we say ‘thanks’ to so many people and supporters.”
FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “Moving up north was a must, given the challenges we experienced in the last few years. I’d like to praise the efforts of the Rally Sweden organisers for coming up with alternatives and securing this promising new base in Umeå for next year’s event. It is the chance to ensure the proper winter conditions we all dream about for a snow rally.”