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  • Writer's pictureDrew Bentham

WRC Rally Sweden Preview 2024


2024 Rally Sweden Poster

After a resounding opening success from Rally Monte Carlo, the WRC circus moves north to take in the snow covered stages of the classic Swedish Rally. Neuville got off to the best start in the title race, taking maximum points and will surely be hoping to continue this run on the Grand Prix on snow. He seems to be in scintillating form after the winter break and looks to be enjoying his rallying again in this latest evolution of the car. Neuville starts in 3rd on the road. There is, however, a snag in the form of our reigning World Champion returning for the first of his part time program this year.


This year Kalle Rovenpera will contest a variety of events across different disciplines after taking the shock decision last year to step back from the WRC full time. With only team points to consider, he's sure to be the major threat for the win on an event he loves and has won before in 22. Rovenpera leads the field into the stages as reigning champion, followed by team mate Elfyn Evans.


Evans, by contrast had a distinctly average first round. Leading on day one, dissolved as he dropped back in Monte with hybrid issues, the Welshman's' luck still not having returned. His pace and commitment were good though up until then which bodes well on an event as quick as this.


Both Tanak (Hyundai) and Katsuta (Toyota) had average rallies. The former wanting to dial back into the car after the year away, the latter trying to push up the leader board. The tricky conditions hampering both men's efforts.


Latvala was the youngest rally winner back in 2008
Throwback: Latvala was the youngest rally winner back in 2008

Further down the top 10 are the Ford crews. Historically Rally Sweden has been a happy hunting ground for Ford with many wins and stage success over the years. Rose tinted glasses wearers may hope to see this repeated this year, though in reality a consistent performance and good points are probably the most they can hope for. Both drivers at this stage just happy to bank the stage miles and seat time.




Route Notes for WRC Sweden


Thursday will see the crews enter shakedown which starts on a forest track with fast, sweeping bends, narrowing towards the end of the stage into more technical sections, and finishing off with several small hill crests in a clearing just before the finish line. The rally proper will start after the cars pass over the ceremonial start in Umeå from 18:30. Stage 1 is the short spectator friendly sprint of just over 5Km.


Day 2 is a much more regular affair. The first stage of the day, arguably one of the more famous ones now thanks to the late Craig Breen, is Brattby. Craig had dominated the Brattby stage in 2023. On crossing the finish line, he jokingly said to a reporter, 'I should probably be the Mayor of Brattby.' Missed by the entire rallying world, the organisers have renamed the stage #42Brattby. The remainder of the day will include the remaining 6 of the 7 stages, ending with the sprint.


Day 3 offers up 126Km over another 7 stages, split into 2 loops of 3 plus the sprint. Once again the top positions at the end of Saturday will score the first raft of points from the new structure. The final days 61km offering up the chance to score those additional points set aside for Sundays action. In all there are 107km of new roads for the crews to learn this year, some requiring full commitment to steal a fastest time.


Reigning champs return in Sweden
Reigning champs return in Sweden

Both Rovenpera and Evans prepared for the event by entering the Artic Lapland rally. Rovenpera led for most of the event but had to retire due to technical difficulties, leaving Evans to take the lead. Regardless though, the event gave the team some valuable set up data for the forthcoming round. A round that no Toyota crew could reach the podium on last year, a fact the team will want to rectify this weekend.



EP will be back out on stage for Hyundai hoping to see a better end than he did last year. A tire delamination sent him off the road, just metres from the finish remember. Also in an i20 is last years rally winner Ott Tanak. Will he have tuned himself into the new car enough to push for a win this time arond?


Conditions look to be good. The stages have an icy base in most places with a decent covering of snow, framed by firm snow banks, offering up postcard level views in and around the forests. Temperatures will be around -3/4 with some snow due to fall late on Friday.


WRC2


The support class has provided so much bang for buck, its hard to ignore. Last month Oliver Solberg and Sami Pajari were out in Monte for the seat time and now begin their season in earnest on this weeks Rally Sweden. Both will be out for a result, especially Solberg who won here last year. Together they make up a field of 20 WRC2 cars entered. Last months winner Rossell is not entered into this rally unfortunately, nor is Pepe Lopez. but Gryazin is and will want to kick start his season after a disappointing rally.

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