Sunday | 08 Feb 2015

Sweden countdown: This year’s route

The second round of the FIA World Rally Championship is a harsh winter challenge, set in the snowy forests of Sweden’s south central Värmland region and over the border into Norway.

It’s a long distance and varied event, comprising a start and finish in Värmland’s capital city Karlstad, a service hub 91km north in the town of Hagfors and stages that include frozen forest tracks, an ice-covered horse racing arena and even a ski-slope. 

Approximately one-third of this year’s route is different to 2014 and of the 11 individual stages four are either new or modified. Here’s what competitors will face this week:

Thursday 12 February
After two days of reconnaissance on Tuesday (10th) and Wednesday (11th) the drivers will first get into their rally cars on Thursday, for the Shakedown test in Råda, next to the central Service Park in Hagfors. That evening the ceremonial start will be held in Karlstad, followed by a short 1.9-kilometre head-to-head Super Special on an ice-covered track normally used for horse trotting. Crews will then complete the long road section back to Hagfors and the overnight parc ferme.

'Colin's Crest' is part of Saturday's Vargåsen stage

Friday 13 February
The first full day is an international affair, with stages in both Sweden and neighbouring Norway. After morning service, crews will tackle two loops of four stages - starting in Sweden with Torsby (14.76km) and then over the border in Norway to Röjden (18.73km), Finnskogen (20.76km) and Kirkenaer (7.07km). The Norwegian stages will be unfamiliar to most drivers. Röjden was driven in the opposite direction the last time it featured on the itinerary in 2011. Finnskogen is also classed as new: only certain sections of last year’s stage of the same name are to be tackled this year, and in the opposite direction. Only Kirkenær  is almost identical to last year. The leg will conclude with a second run on the Karlstad Super Special before the cars return to Hagfors. Crews will drive 124.54 competitive kilometres and 473.81 kilometres of liaison sections.

Saturday 14 February
Packing in 134.82 timed kilometres, Saturday is the event’s longest day and features a loop of four all-Swedish stages that are unchanged since 2014: Fredriksberg (18.15km), Rämmen (22.76km), Hagfors Sprint (1.87km) and Vargåsen (24.63km). The loop will be completed twice, separated by a thirty-minute midday service in Hagfors. Saturday’s final test features the infamous ‘Colin’s Crest’. The best jumps here are rewarded with the ‘Colin’s Crest Award’ – the trophy named after 1995 World Champion Colin McRae.

Sunday 15 February
The final leg will feature three stages: Lesjöfors (15.00km), then two runs through Värmullsasen (15.87km), which concludes with a flat-out sprint down a ski-slope and a jump before the finish. The second pass through Värmullsasen will serve as the live televised Power Stage, offering bonus points to the three fastest drivers. The rally is scheduled to finish at 1500hrs with the podium ceremony in Karlstad’s main square.

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