Mild weather sparked anxiety in the Rally Sweden service park this morning that grip will be increasingly hard to find during the three days of action.
Despite heavy snow last week in the Värmland region, daytime temperatures are unusually above freezing. Much of the snow has melted, there is little ice and cars quickly cut through to the gravel during this morning’s Råda shakedown.
Conditions during the recce were similar and drivers fear the gravel will rip studs from the tyres, leaving little grip in what remains of the winter weather.
“There is some snow but the temperature is above 0°C so the snow and ice beneath is melting,” explained Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala (pictured above). “It’s a thin layer so the winter tyres break the ice quickly.
“Gravel comes through and offers great grip but at the same time it destroys the tyres quickly and pulls out the studs. I think the second pass of stages will be fully gravel so we need to find a way to drive fast but also to save the tyres,” he added.
Latvala said the inconsistent grip would prove awkward. “When you lose the studs and hit some ice it will be difficult in braking and turning. The car will be nervous where the grip changes so you really need to focus on the road so you are prepared for everything,” he said.
M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans is making his debut on a full snow rally and admits the weather will make his task even harder.
“We’ve seen that even in good conditions at the test there was a difference in grip from one day to the next. Here I think there could be massive variances even in one stage. I don’t know what we will face but conditions will be the same for everyone so we just have to get on with it,” he said.
With the forecast predicting mild weather for the duration of the rally, tyre management could prove the decisive factor here.