Ogier tops Sweden shakedown
Championship leader is fastest at Rally Sweden warm-up
Conditions for the championship’s winter fixture were excellent during Tuesday and Wednesday’s pre-event recce, when stages featured a hard-packed ice base and were lined with deep snow banks.
But the temperature has rarely dipped below freezing since then, and with a high today of 5ºC the snow is melting rapidly.
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier will be first on the road on Friday and Saturday and warned that the melting surface could quickly wear through to the gravel beneath.
“The conditions were really good in the recce so we just hope that some cold is coming again and it stays okay,” he said.
“If it becomes slushy then it will be very slippery and without overnight freezing I expect conditions will be very difficult. It will be especially tricky in the afternoons when after 100 cars and the historic rally we can expect some gravel on the road.”
If the ice wears though to the gravel beneath, grip will increase, but so will the likelihood of damage to the metal-spiked tyres and the appearance of deep ruts in the road.
“We know on some stages, especially around Hagfors it’s melting quite quickly now,” added Citroen’s Mads Ostberg. “It a bit colder in Norway at the moment, and that could help the Norwegian stages. I think a lot will depend on the weather when we drive the stages - not how they look now. If it’s +0.5ªC it will be difficult conditions but if it’s -0.5ºC it will be a lot better.”