Tuesday | 09 Feb 2016

Scandinavians vs the world in Sweden's WRC 2 clash

A top-class field of 20 drivers will contest the WRC 2 category of Rally Sweden this week, with a core group of Scandinavians out to stamp their dominance on the WRC's winter fixture.

However to do that they'll first have to get past the distinctly non Scandinavian Elfyn Evans, the determined Welshman who leads the championship after a dominating run in the season opening Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Winter rallies are second nature to Swedes, Norwegians and Finns, and this year's entry features some of the brightest rising stars from each country, as well as the latest machinery from Skoda and Ford.

Much is expected of Skoda Motorsport as it makes its season debut on a rally it last tackled in an official capacity in 2005. Its drivers Esapekka Lappi from Finland and Sweden's Pontus Tidemand head the four Skoda Fabia R5 entries here.

Of the two, Tidemand [shown testing in full snow conditions above] has the most experience of his home event and he led the 2015 edition overall after the opening stage. Alongside him in the co-driver's seat for the first time will be Jonas Andersson - Mads Østberg's former co-driver and a man who has finished on the Swedish podium twice before.

Another Skoda driver to watch will be Norway's Ole Christian Veiby, winner of the WRC 3 class on Rallye Monte Carlo.

Evans was the class of the WRC 2 field in Rallye Monte-Carlo

There is no shortage of talent among the Ford Fiesta R5 runners, which make up over half of the WRC 2 entries. Most cars in WRC 2 - and 14 on the rally in total - have been upgraded to M-Sport's more powerful Evo specification.

Evans starts as favourite in this group, thanks to his seat time in the Fiesta and his recent showing in Monte Carlo, but M-Sport backed Eyvind Brynildsen, current Norwegian Rally Champion, could do well in an identical Fiesta R5 Evo car.

Norwegian Championship veteran Anders Grøndal is a late addition to the WRC 2 field and another Fiesta driver with the ability to upset the WRC regulars.

Also on our tip sheet is 24-year-old former WRC Academy driver Fredrik Åhlin, a member of the Sweden National Team and resident of the rally's host town Karlstad.

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