Weather forces Sweden route revamp
Rising temperatures and rain force stage changes
And with weather forecasts predicting an eleventh-hour freeze, hopes are high that we'll see some proper winter weather soon. The current conditions forced a re-jig of the pre-rally itinerary, with the recce pushed back a day to Wednesday and Thursday.
We got an early view of the stages on Tuesday, when we joined the WRC TV crews for a camera location recce to check the route for ourselves. Here's what we found:
1) Röjden SS3/SS8
To be run twice on Friday, this is one of the rally's most northerly stages and one with a decent amount of snow and ice. The stage starts in Sweden, crosses into Norway and ends back in Sweden. We took this picture at the 10km point, after the cars leave a forest section and move into the open countryside in the foreground.
3) Svullrya SS4/SS7
Staying in Norway, here's the scene 4km into the new Svullrya stage, a stone's throw from the hairpin shown in the main picture [above]. The snow was quite damp and slushy but underneath is a layer of polished ice that was so slippery we struggled to stand up. The hairpin picture shows the difference in the state of the main, public roads (on the left) and the rally's private forestry roads (on the right).
3) Fredriksberg SS10
Now scheduled to run just once on Saturday, Fredriksberg is one of the event's Southern stages, located North-east of Karlstad. The picture below was taken at the 1.8km mark, where the surface was still ice covered. In other sections the ice had worn through to the gravel beneath - sometimes frozen, sometime loose and muddy.
4) Vargåsen SS12/SS16
Very little snow in evidence here but there's more ice than the picture below suggests. In some places the gravel surface is completely frozen, in others there is a top layer of loose, muddy gravel on a hard permafrost base. The picture shows the view from a WRC TV camera position 8km into the test. The bottom picture is the landing zone after Colin's Crest at the 12.8km point.