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WRC stars ready to fly in Sweden’s winter wonderland


A high-speed winter wonderland awaits the FIA World Rally Championship stars and their Rally1 hybrid cars next week (February 9-12), when the 70th Rally Sweden forms round two of the 2023 WRC season. 

Based in the university city of Umeå in the northeast of the country, Rally Sweden is the WRC’s only true winter event. It’s also one that never fails to deliver flat-out action, as drivers perfect the art of shigh speed action on ice-coated forest roads.

Recent heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures are set to combine to deliver a classic winter contest in Scandinavia, with the rally also marking the opening round of the 2023 FIA Junior WRC Championship for young drivers competing in identical Ford Fiesta Rally3s run by M-Sport Poland on Pirelli tyres.

Last year’s event earned Rally Sweden three-star environmental accreditation, the highest possible under the FIA’s framework, and sustainability remains a key focus of the event organising team, of whom the majority provide their time and expertise on a voluntary basis. The use of 100 per cent fossil-free fuel in Rally1 cars and a reduction in tyre quantity through new-for-2023 regulations are just two examples of how the FIA is working step-by-step to make rallying more sustainable.

What was an all-new route last season has been tweaked for the 2023 edition of Rally Sweden with three new stages added to the itinerary.



Eighteen stages over a competitive distance of 301.18 kilometres are in store on Rally Sweden with 62 per cent of the route different compared to 12 months ago. The 5.16-kilometre Umeå Sprint is up first on Thursday evening (February 9) with a spectator-friendly format helping to ensure large crowds follow the action.

Stages to the west and to the north of Umeå make up Friday’s itinerary and include the revised Brattby stage, plus Botsmark, an all-new test measuring 25.81 kilometres in length. The Brattby, Botsmark and Sarsjöliden stages are run either side of service in Umeå, while leg one concludes with a return to the Umeå Sprint for a total of 106.76 timed kilometres.

Crews journey north and east of Umeå for Saturday’s leg two – the longest of the rally at 126.22 kilometres – for three repeated stages. At 12.54 kilometres, Norrby is a Rally Sweden newcomer and is one of three stages to take place before and after the Umeå service halt. The 28.25-kilometre Floda stage is the event’s longest.

Sunday’s third and final leg is made up of two passes through the all-new 26.48-kilometre Västervik stage, plus the 10.08-kilometre Umeå Power Stage, a longer version of the Umeå Sprint, and used for the first time on Saturday evening.



Stage distance:325.02 km
Total distance: 1534.79 km
Number of stages:18



-Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team: Thierry Neuville is joined by new-for-2023 recruit Esapekka Lappi, plus Craig Breen, who returns to the squad to drive the third Hyundai i20 Rally1 Hybrid after a season at M-Sport in 2022. All three are Rally Sweden podium finishers.

-M-Sport Ford World Rally Team: Pierre-Louis Loubet and Ott Tänak fly the M-Sport flag in their Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrids. Like Toyota's Lappi and Takamoto who are entered in Ralli Kuopio in Finland this weekend, Estonian Tänak is contesting Otepää Winter Rally as a practice event in his homeland to prepare for the Swedish ice and snow.

-Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT: Having begun his WRC title defence with second place and the Power Stage victory on Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, 22-year-old Kalle Rovanperä returns to an event he won last season. Takamoto Katsuta has been promoted to Toyota’s full factory line-up and will be eligible to score Manufacturers’ championship points for the first time. Elfyn Evans completes Toyota’s official trio, while Lorenzo Bertelli becomes the first privateer to compete in a Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid.



The 25-car FIA WRC2 Championship entry includes defending champion Emil Lindholm (Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia RS Rally2), leading Swedish driver Oliver Solberg (Škoda Fabia RS), Norway’s Ole Christian Veiby (Volkswagen Polo GTI R5), Finland’s Teemu Suninen (Hyundai Motorsport N i20 N Rally2) and Estonian Robert Vives, who takes up his first prize drive for winning the FIA Junior WRC title in 2022 and will be eligible for WRC2 Challenger points in his M-Sport Ford WRT-entered Fiesta Rally2.

Other FIA WRC2 Challenger contenders include Estonian youngster Georg Linnamäe (Hyundai i20 N), Toksport WRT2’s Nicolay Gryazin and Marco Bulacia (Škoda Fabia RS) or flying Finns Sami Pajari (Toksport WRT Škoda Fabia RS) and Lauri Joona (Škoda Fabia Evo). Italy’s Mauro Miele is a contender for WRC Masters Cup honours, having secured the title last season.

Drivers from Belgium, France, Ireland, Kenya, Luxembourg, Paraguay and Spain form the FIA Junior WRC entry, while 10 drivers will chase WRC3 points. One of the many notable Junior WRC drivers is Laurent Pellier, whose prize for winning the Junior ERC title is a season in Junior WRC. He will face strong competition from the likes of Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy William Creighton, returning Junior WRC driver from 2022, or Luxembourg's Grégoire Munster.



Media accreditation

Media accreditation must be collected in person by accredited pass holders from the Accreditation Desk, Media Centre, Nolia, Signalvägen 3, 903 22 Umeå (GPS Coordinates: N63° 50.050 ́ E20° 14.525 ́). The Accreditation Desk is open as follows:

Tuesday February 7: 14:00 – 20:00 hrs

Wednesday February 8: 08:00 – 21:00 hrs

Thursday February 9: 08:00 – 22:00 hrs


Media Centre

The Media Centre is located within the Rally HQ building, Nolia, Signalvägen 3, 903 22 Umeå (GPS Coordinates: N63° 50.050 ́ E20° 14.525 ́) and open as follows:

Tuesday February 7: 14:00 – 20:00 hrs

Wednesday February 8: 08:00 – 21:00 hrs

Thursday February 9: 08:00 – 22:00 hrs

Friday February 10: 07:50 – 22:00 hrs

Saturday February 11: 07:25 – 22:00 hrs

Sunday February 12: 05:45 – 23:00 hrs


Media activities and opportunities

Wednesday February 8

17:00 – 17:30 hrs: Mandatory Tabard Media Safety Briefing (Media Centre)

17:30 – 19:00 hrs: Team media functions (team service areas)

17:30 hrs: Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT

18:00 hrs: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

18:30 hrs: M-Sport Ford WRT


Thursday February 9

09:01 – 10:00 hrs: Shakedown for P1 and invited drivers (Håkmark, 5.45 km)

10:01 – 11:30 hrs: Shakedown for P1 and P2 drivers (Håkmark, 5.45 km)

11:00 – 12:30 hrs: Shakedown for P2, P3 and P4 drivers (Håkmark, 5.45 km)

12:00 – 13:00 hrs: Shakedown for P3, P4 and Non-Priority drivers (Håkmark, 5.45 km)

12:30 hrs: Meet the Crews with top 3 drivers from Shakedown (Service Park)

13:00 hrs: FIA Pre-event Press Conference (Media Centre)

13:40 hrs: ERC Royal Rally of Scandinavia press presentation by WRCP (Media Center)

17:30 – 18:15 hrs: Autograph session for P1 drivers and co-drivers (Red Barn Arena)

18:15 hrs: WRC drivers’ official photograph (Red Barn Arena)

18:30 hrs: Crew presentation (Red Barn Arena)

18:40 hrs: Start of Section 1 (Red Barn Arena)


Friday February 10

07:50 hrs: Start of Section 2 (Service Park)

20:15 hrs (approx.): Meet the Crews session (Top 3 Team Principals & Top 3 drivers), SP


Saturday February 11

07:05 hrs: Start of Section 4 (Service Park)

19:30 hrs (approx.): Meet the Crews session (Top 3 Team Principals & Top 3 drivers), SP


Sunday February 12

06:05 hrs: Start of Section 6 (Service Park)

13:30 hrs: Prize-giving ceremony (Red Barn Arena)

15:00 hrs: FIA Post-event Press Conference (Media Centre)


Media zones

Media Zones attended by all drivers and selected team representatives will operate in the Media Zone area located on the entry to the Service Park as follows:

TC1A, TC4A, TC8A, TC11A, TC15A, TC16A, TC18A

Media are kindly asked to refer to section 12.16 of Bulletin No. 1.


FIA Press Conference attendance and schedule

Pre-event (Media Centre), Thursday February 9


13:00 hrs: FIA WRC Championship

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – Ott Tänak, Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Takamoto Katsuta, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Lorenzo Bertelli, Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team – Craig Breen, Hyundai i20 Rally1 Hybrid


13:15 hrs: FIA WRC2 / FIA WRC2 Challenger Championships

Toksport WRT – Emil Lindholm (FIN), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 (WRC2)

Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 (WRC2)

Georg Linnamaë (EST), Hyundai i20 N Rally2 (WRC2 / WRC2 Challenger)


13:20hrs: FIA WRC3 Championship/FIA Junior WRC Championship

Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy – William Creighton (IRL), Ford Fiesta Rally3 (JWRC / WRC3)

Laurent Pellier (FRA), Ford Fiesta Rally3 (JWRC / WRC3)

M-Sport Ford WRT - Robert Virves (EST), Ford Fiesta MkII (WRC2 / WRC2 Challenger)


Post-event (Media Centre), Sunday February 12


Top 3 in overall classification

Representative of winning manufacturer

Winning WRC2 drivers (WRC2, WRC2 Challenger)

Winning WRC Masters Cup driver

Winning WRC3/Junior WRC driver(s)



Toyota Gazoo Racing WRTKalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN) - #69
 Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR) - #33
 Takamoto Katsuta (JPN)/Aaron Johnston (IRL) - #18
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRTThierry Neuville (BEL)/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL) - #1
 Esapekka Lappi (FIN)/Janne Ferm (FIN) - #4
 Craig Breen (IRL)/James Fulton (IRL) - #42
M-Sport Ford WRTOtt Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST) - #8
 Pierre-Louis Loubet (FRA)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) - #7



The provisional classifications following round 1 of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship are available here:



1. K. Rovanperä (FIN)/J. Halttunen (FIN)Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid2h10m44.9s
2. T. Neuville (BEL) /M. Wydaeghe (BEL)Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid+22.0s
3. E. Lappi (FIN)/J. Ferm (FIN)Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid+30.6s



2022Kalle Rovanperä (FIN)/Jonne Halttunen (FIN)Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid
2020Elfyn Evans (GBR)/Scott Martin (GBR)Toyota Yaris WRC
2019Ott Tänak (EST)/Martin Järveoja (EST)Toyota Yaris WRC
2018Thierry Neuville (BEL)/Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
2017Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN)Toyota Yaris WRC