WRC - Rally Sweden preview | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - Rally Sweden preview

  • gb
18.02.22

Sweden’s winter wonderland up next for WRC’s new hybrid era

WRC - Rally Sweden 2020 - K. Rovanperä/J. Halttunen (F. Flamand / DPPI)

The temperatures are set to be sub-zero but the action will be red-hot when the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Sweden for the second instalment of the WRC’s new and exciting hybrid-powered Rally1 era next week.

From February 24-27, the university city of Umeå – and the surrounding forests of the Västerbotten region – will be home to Rally Sweden, a founding round of the WRC in 1973, but a notable absentee in 2021 as the COVID-19 restrictions forced its cancellation.

The event’s eagerly anticipated comeback marks unchartered territory for the WRC and its drivers and teams following the rally’s move away from its traditional Värmland hub to an alternative winter wonderland in the northeast of Sweden where 17 ice- and snow-coated stages await.

Although the relocation has resulted in organisers delivering what is effectively a new rally, the expected Arctic-like conditions are set to contribute to another memorable event to follow on from the exhilarating Rallye Monte-Carlo season opener last month.

Rallying on snow and ice creates a unique spectacle as drivers rely on a combination of leaning on snowbanks and the grip of their studded tyres to negotiate the high-speed twists and turns.

Official supplier Pirelli’s upgraded Sottozero Ice tyres, fitted to all Rally1, Rally2 and Rally3 cars on Rally Sweden, feature 384 tungsten-tipped studs, each one protruding seven millimetres out from the tread blocks to bite into the frozen ice below.

 

RALLY1 REGULATIONS EXPLAINED

Heralding the advent of a new, more sustainable era, the Rally1 regulations are the product of extensive work by the FIA in partnership with the competing manufacturers, Hyundai, M-Sport (Ford) and Toyota.

They aligned to deliver a category that maintains spectacular performance, further enhances safety, while focusing on developing strategies that can help to support the environment. In addition to the plug-in hybrid unit, which is mated to the existing 1.6-litre turbocharged internal combustion engine, Rally1 cars run on 100 per cent fossil-free fuel.

The hybrid kit includes a 100kW electric motor fitted to a 3.9kWh battery and can deliver performance levels to more than 500bhp. Significantly, however, Rally1 cars are designed to run on electric mode only, which they will be required to do in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) zones located close to event service parks.

Rally1 cars are identifiable by an ‘HY’ graphic on the side door panels. Safety lights on the windscreen and both side pillars will be green if the car is safe to touch. A flashing red light with an audible warning means a car is unsafe to touch.

With more than 45 per cent of all cars sold in Sweden in 2021 being electrified, the country is a fitting venue to host the round two of the 13-event WRC season.

 

THE 2022 ENTRY

Ten Rally1 cars are set to contest Rally Sweden, the first of a number of events that reigning FIA WRC champion Sébastien Ogier hasn’t included on his restricted schedule for 2022. His absence has allowed Esappekka Lappi to return to the championship via an arrangement to share the Frenchman’s Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 on selected rounds.

FIA World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä and former Rally Sweden winner Elfyn Evans join Lappi at Toyota Gazoo Racing to chase points towards the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers. Takamoto Katsuta, who took a breakthrough WRC2 victory on Rally Sweden in 2018, completes the Toyota attack.

After posting the first victory of the Rally1 era on Rallye Monte-Carlo, Sébastien Loeb hands over the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team leader role to Craig Breen, who drove his Ford Puma Rally1 to third place in Monaco. Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith form the remainder of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team line-up.

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team duo Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak are on an exclusive list of five non-Nordic drivers to win Rally Sweden, the home event for their 20-year-old team-mate Oliver Solberg.

 

THE SUPPORTING CATEGORIES

The restructured FIA WRC2 Championship for Rally2 cars continues on Rally Sweden with separate classifications for Teams, Drivers and Co-Drivers, plus Junior Drivers and Junior Co-Drivers, while the Masters Cup awards the best Driver and Co-Driver born on or before January 1, 1972.
 
Rally Sweden also hosts the opening round of the FIA Junior WRC Championship, which uses four-wheel-drive Rally3 cars for the first time. Eight young drivers in identical Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta Rally3s from M-Sport Poland will be in action with Sami Pajari aiming to become only the second driver in history after Sweden’s P-G Andersson to win the Junior championship twice. Among Pajari’s rivals are Jon Armstrong, who returns after finishing second behind the Finn in 2021, and McRae Kimathi, the fourth African and first Kenyan driver to compete in the Junior WRC Championship.

Defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen tops the WRC2 order following his category win on Rallye Monte-Carlo, while his Škoda-powered Toksport WRT team-mate Nikolay Gryazin leads WRC2 Junior contenders. His rivals include Finns Emil Lindholm and Jari Huttunen, who joins Swede Mattias Adielsson in a second M-Sport Ford Fiesta Rally2. Mauro Miele and Michał Sołowow are among the WRC2 Masters entrants.

 

THE 2022 ROUTE

Rally Sweden’s return to the WRC gets underway at 20:00 hrs local time on Thursday February 24 with the official starting ceremony in the centre of Umeå. Friday’s route takes crews north of the host city for two loops of three stages divided by a service halt in Umeå. SS2 and SS5, Kamsjön, is the longest of the event and the most northerly. The 5.53-kilometre Umeå sprint rounds out the day’s action and finishes in The Red Barn Arena spectator area close to the service park. Three repeated stages separated by service in Umeå provide the challenge on Saturday – four were planned initially but the double pass through Örträsk special stage was removed from the itinerary due to a local issue with the unexpected movement of reindeer herds on local farms. Both loops end with the Umeå stage, a longer version of the Umeå Sprint from Friday evening. Sunday’s itinerary features four stages with the second pass through the 14.23-kilometre Sarsjöliden test counting as the event-deciding Power Stage from 12:18 hrs local time.

 

RALLY DATA
 
Total distance: TBC
Stage distance: 264.79 km
Number of stages: 17

 

MEDIA ACCREDITATION

Media accreditation must be collected personally by accredited pass holders from the Accreditation Desk located within the Media Centre at Dragongatan 1, Umeå (The Dragonskolan Sports Hall on the opposite side of the road of the Rally HQ building). GPS coordinates: N63°49.960’ E20°14.665’

 

The opening hours are:
Tuesday February 22: 14:00 - 20:00 hrs
Wednesday February 23: 08:00 - 21:00 hrs
Thursday February 24: 08:00 - 22:00 hrs

The Media Centre is open as follows:
Tuesday February 22: 14:00 – 20:00 hrs
Wednesday February 23: 08:00 – 21:00 hrs
Thursday February 24: 08:00 – 22:00 hrs
Friday February 25: 07:50 – 22:00 hrs
Saturday February 26: 07:25 – 22:00 hrs
Sunday February 27: 05:45 – 23:00 hrs

 

2022 RALLY SWEDEN TIMETABLE & MEDIA OPPORTUNITIES

Wednesday February 23 
FIA Photographers safety briefing, Media Centre17:00 hrs
Team media functionsFrom 17:30 hrs
  
Thursday February 24 
Shakedown P1 and other drivers as requested, Umeå09:01 – 10:00 hrs
Shakedown P1 + P2, Umeå10:01 – 11:30 hrs
Shakedown P2 + P3 + P4, Umeå11:01 – 12:30 hrs
Shakedown P3 + P4 + Non-Priority, Umeå12:00 – 13:30 hrs
Meet the Crews (top 3 in Shakedown), Service Park12:30 hrs
Pre-Event FIA Press Conference, Media Centre*13:00 hrs
Selected P1 crews to drive from SP to Umeå City Hall17:50 – 18:00 hrs
Rally Sweden Family photo with all P1 crews18:40 – 18:55 hrs
Autograph signing in Väven, Umeå19:00 – 19:45 hrs
Opening ceremony, Umeå20:00 hrs
  
Friday February 25 
Start of Section 107:50 hrs
Meet the Crews (P1 team principals, then top 3 drivers), SP19:30 hrs (approx.)
  
Saturday February 26 
Start of Section 307:10 hrs
Meet the Crews (P1 team principals, then top 3 drivers), SP19:30 hrs (approx.)
  
Sunday February 27 
Start of Section 505:30 hrs
Podium Ceremony and Prize Giving, Umeå14:00 hrs
Post-Event FIA Press Conference, Media Centre*16:00 hrs

 

*Press Conferences will be available to accredited media attending onsite and no longer streamed via Zoom. However, a written transcript will be available afterwards. All Meet the Crews sessions can be followed on Rally Sweden’s social media platforms.

 

MEDIA ZONES

All priority drivers will be available for media interviews at the following times:
TC3A, TC7A, TC11A, TC15A, TC19A

 

FIA PRESS CONFERENCE ATTENDANCE

 

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 24

13:00 - FIA WR3 / Junior WRC
Sami Pajari (FIN)
McRae Kimathi (KEN)
 
13:10 - FIA WRC2
Toksport WRT – Emil Lindholm (FIN)
M-Sport Ford WRT – Mattias Adielsson (SWE)
Ole Christian Veiby (NOR)
 
13:20 - FIA WRC

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT – Oliver Solberg (SWE)
M-Sport Ford WRT – Craig Breen (IRL)

 

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 27 

Winning FIA WRC3 Championship driver
Winning FIA WRC2 Championship driver
Winning FIA Junior WRC Championship driver
Top three drivers in the overall classification
Representative of the winning manufacturer

 

2022 RALLY SWEDEN MANUFACTURER ENTRIES

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRTElfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR) - #33
 Kalle Rovanperä (FIN) / Jonne Halttunen (FIN) - #69
 Esapekka Lappi (FIN) / Janne Ferm (FIN) - #4
  
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRTThierry Neuville (BEL) / Martin Wydaeghe (BEL) - #11
 Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST) - #8
 Oliver Solberg (SWE) / Elliott Edmondson (GBR) - #2
  
M-Sport Ford WRTCraig Breen (IRL) / Paul Nagle (IRL) - #42
 Gus Greensmith (GBR) / Jonas Andersson (SWE) - #44
 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) / Alexandre Coria (FRA) - #16

 

2022 FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP CLASSIFICATIONS 

The classification following the opening round of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season is available at this link: https://www.fia.com/events/world-rally-championship/season-2022/standings

 

2020 RALLY SWEDEN RESULTS (2021 edition cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions)

1. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin

Toyota Yaris WRC

1h11.43.1s

2. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

+12.7s

3. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen

Toyota Yaris WRC

+20.2s

 

RECENT WINNERS

2019

Ott Tänak/ Martin Järveoja

Toyota Yaris WRC

2018

Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul

Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

2017

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila

Toyota Yaris WRC

2016

Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC

2015

Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC