Leading lights from the FIA World Rally Championship have applauded Rally Sweden (13 - 16 February) organisers for their efforts in ensuring next week’s second round of the series goes ahead.
Unseasonably mild weather initially placed a question mark over the championship’s only winter round. But organisers confirmed earlier this week it would take place, with four days of action in a modified route which still features Norway and Sweden.
M-Sport Ford team principal Rich Millener, whose Fiesta cars form 44 per cent of the rally entry, led the plaudits.
“Rally Sweden is an iconic event in the FIA World Rally Championship and I think we’re all grateful to Glenn (Olsson, Rally Sweden CEO) and his team for all their hard work in ensuring it goes ahead in what have been some very challenging conditions,” he said.
“It’s not been easy with the mild weather, but the organisers have been extremely proactive over the last few weeks – working closely with the teams and the FIA and ensuring everything’s in place to deliver another close-fought rally.”
Hyundai Motorsport team principal Andrea Adamo echoed Millener’s thoughts.
“We appreciate the concerted efforts of the organisers and the FIA to make Rally Sweden happen,” he said.
“The conditions are uncharacteristically warm for this time of the year and we acknowledge the challenges that have been faced in preparing for the rally, with safety at the forefront of the decision-making process,” he said.
Drivers also welcomed the decision in the knowledge that full points will be awarded from the event despite the itinerary changes.
M-Sport Ford’s Teemu Suninen, who led last year before crashing, said: “It’s great that the organisers have been able to make the rally happen, but we will have to wait and see what the conditions are like. I’m hoping for snow and we’ll have a test this weekend to prepare.”
Elfyn Evans will drive a Toyota Yaris competitively on loose surface roads for the first time after a superb debut on asphalt at last month’s Rallye Monte-Carlo when he led for much of the event before finishing third.
“I’m really looking forward to Rally Sweden. The car was feeling really good in our winter testing on snow so I’m hoping for another good event there,” said the Welshman.