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Fri 03 Feb 2023

Rally Rewind: Sweden 2022

It’s just six days until the FIA World Rally Championship blasts back into action at Rally Sweden (9 - 12 February). Join us as we recall the key talking points from last year's winter fixture.

1. A new home
It was all change in 2022 as the university city of Umeå – and the surrounding forests of the Västerbotten region - became the new home of Rally Sweden, a founding round of the WRC in 1973.

The new base marked uncharted territory for the WRC drivers and teams following the rally’s move away from its traditional Värmland hub to the northeast of Sweden. Conditions, as anticipated, were arctic-like, with snow and ice in abundance.

2. Like father, like son
Kalle Rovanperä secured an emphatic victory at the championship’s second round – 21 years after father Harri claimed his sole FIA World Rally Championship win at the very same event.

Rovanperä was only four months old when his father triumphed at the WRC’s only pure winter fixture in 2001 in a Peugeot 206 World Rally Car.

Five different drivers led during a fast and furious opening day, but Rovanperä prevailed to score his first victory of the season by 22.0sec, ultimately laying the foundations for what would turn out to be a crowning year...

3. Neuville’s podium ‘release’
After a disappointing opening round in Monte-Carlo, second place provided a timely boost for Thierry Neuville and Hyundai Motorsport. The Belgian survived a couple of brushes with the snowbanks in his i20 N and he kept a chasing Esapekka Lappi at bay.

“It’s a big release for everybody," Neuville admitted after the finish. "We couldn’t expect this when we came here but everything worked fine and I felt really strong in the car. I would say [it’s a] job well done and everybody is happy.”

4. Evans’ eagerness proves costly
Elfyn Evans was fighting to claim his second-consecutive Sweden victory and initially trailed team-mate Rovanperä by just 8.3sec before a 10sec penalty was imposed late on Saturday night.

Eager to overcome the deficit, the Welshman pushed a little too hard on the final morning and slammed his Toyota into a snowbank on the opening test. The front of his car was damaged too badly to continue.

5. Impressive Armstrong
The Umeå fixture played host to round one of the FIA Junior WRC, with Jon Armstrong taking victory following an enthralling battle with Finland's Lauri Joona.

In the weeks leading up to the rally, however, Armstrong’s place on the entry looked in doubt - and he only just made it to the start after securing funding at the final hour.

Making Armstrong's victory all the more impressive was the fact that he didn't even have a pre-event test, so Thursday morning’s shakedown at Klabböle was his only warm-up.

• Full coverage from Rally Sweden will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.