Snow driving expert Jari Ketomaa looks likely to be the pacesetter in the WRC2 category of Rally Sweden, which has attracted a strong field of 12 entries.
The Finn will make his 2014 season debut at the wheel of a Drive DMACK team Ford Fiesta R5 alongside Tommi Makinen’s former co-driver Kaj Lindstrom.
As DMACK’s development driver, Ketomaa has covered more than 800kms on the firm’s DMG-ICE snow tyre in the last 12 months, and finished his Sweden preparations on Sunday with a 60km test in his Autotek-run Fiesta R5.
“It’s my fifth time here and my preparations have gone well so I hope to do well,” Ketomaa told wrc.com. “It’s usually one of the most enjoyable rallies to drive, although the softer conditions this year are going to mean a more cautious approach than normal.”
The patchy gravel conditions are likely to present a new challenge to last year’s Sweden WRC2 winner Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who is hoping to challenge for victory again alongside co-driver Michael Orr in a Fiesta RRC.
Heading the local talent is former WRC Academy driver Fredrik Ahlin, the 22-year-old Swede tipped to go well in a second DMACK-shod Fiesta R5. Another snow expert, Norwegian Anders Grondal, led WRC2 for much of last year’s rally and could do well again in his Group N Subaru Impreza.
Other notable entries include Estonian Karl Kruuda in an S2000-spec Fiesta and Ukrainian Yurii Protasov who took his maiden WRC2 win last month at Rallye Monte Carlo.
Monte Carlo runner-up Lorenzo Bertelli returns in his Fiesta R5, with Valeriy Gorban back at the wheel of his S2000-spec Mini Countryman.
The remaining entries in the WRC2 field will be filled by Massimiliano Rendina in a Mitsubishi Lancer, Jourdan Serderidis in a Ford Fiesta R5, Gianluca Linari in a Subaru Impreza and Giuseppe Dettori in Mitsubishi Lancer.