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Rally Sweden - 9-12 Feb 17

Posted: February 26, 2017 6:20 PM - 3662 Hits

Round 2 - 2017 World Rally Championship

Video Clips

Posted: February 26, 2017 6:20 PM

Jari-Matti Latvala wins fourth Rally Sweden to hand Toyota comeback victory.

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:20 AM

It was the Finn's 17th career victory, but one of his most emotional. He faced a season on the sidelines after his Volkswagen team withdrew from the sport at the end of last season, before finally joining the Japanese manufacturer in a late deal.

After a 17-year absence from the FIA World Rally Championship, Toyota are back on the top step just two rallies into their comeback.

Latvala began the final leg with a slender 3.8sec lead over Ott Tanak after long-time leader Thierry Neuville crashed last night. He won all three snow and ice-covered speed tests in his Yaris World Rally Car to extend the margin to 29.2sec.

He claimed maximum bonus points from the Power Stage and, after finishing second in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, holds a four-point lead in the drivers' standings.

It is the first time any driver other than four-time champion Sebastien Ogier has led the championship since February 2014.

"It's amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we're winning. I have no words to describe it, I'm so emotional. We're at a good level but now we go forward and it gets more difficult. Mexico is next up and I'm really motivated for the championship," he said.

Tanak, driving a Ford Fiesta, had the upper hand on Latvala yesterday when he closed in. The Estonian was unhappy with his car's handling today and after conceding seven seconds in the opening special stage, he settled for second, matching his career-best result.

Team-mate Ogier was also in the victory fight but a spin in the first corner of the opening test ended his hopes and he finished 30.3sec behind Tanak.

Dani Sordo was the top Hyundai finisher in fourth following Neuville's accident. The Spaniard finished 39.7sec ahead of Craig Breen, who struggled to perfect his Citroen C3's set-up but banked good points from a solid debut in the car.

Elfyn Evans was sixth in another Fiesta, despite losing nearly a minute with an engine misfire in today's opening stage. The Welshman made repairs and the car was restored to full health for the final two tests.

The new-era World Rally Cars take on the challenge of high temperatures and dirt roads for the first time next month when Leon hosts round three at Rally Guanajuato Mexico (9 - 12 March).

CITROEN TOTAL ABU DHABI WRT MOVING IN RIGHT DIRECTION

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:19 AM

The second weekend of the 2017 World Rally Championship provided yet further evidence that it is one of the most open and unpredictable seasons in many years! In Sweden, the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT met some of its targets thanks to its young drivers, Craig Breen and St?phane Lefebvre. Whilst not underestimating the scale of the challenge ahead, the team undoubtedly made progress and is heading in the right direction ahead of the first round on gravel.

THE STORY OF THE RACE FOR THE C3 WRCs

The rally got underway on Thursday evening with the Karlstad super special stage. However, all the crews were waiting until Friday morning before switching to maximum attack in the forests of the Varmland.

The Citroen C3 WRCs were in impressive form at the start of the race, with Kris Meeke setting the second fastest time on SS2 and Craig Breen finishing third on SS3. At the mid-leg point, Kris was third overall whilst Craig was eighth, less than twenty seconds adrift of his team-mate.

On the second loop, Meeke had to contend with excessive wear on his Michelin X-Ice North 3 tyres and was unable to hang onto third place. Meanwhile, Breen struggled with the handling of his C3 WRC after damaging the front aero package when he hit a snow bank. He held onto eighth place, but dropped time to the drivers ahead.

"We clearly still have work to do to make the most of our car's potential in certain conditions. On this surface, we were fast on the first pass on the stages," noted Yves Matton, Citroen Racing Team Principal. "We still need to work out why our drivers were less comfortable on the second runs."

On Saturday, Kris Meeke was unable to hide his frustration as the seconds slipped away. Despite driving well, the Brit dropped to fifth place. In the afternoon, he made a mistake on Varg?sen 2: after missing a corner, the C3 went off the road and fell into a snow-filled ditch. Spectators rushed to help but unfortunately, it took them eight minutes to get the car back on the road...

Craig enjoyed a more positive day. Avoiding the previous day's mistakes, the Irishman profited in particular from the misfortune of other drivers to move up a few positions. As he returned to service and parc ferme in Torsby, he could be pleased to have ended day two into fifth overall. The rally concluded with a sprint finish on Sunday, with just three stages to complete. Craig Breen and Scott Martin looked to make sure of their result and therefore took no risks. They added a second fifth-place finish to the one secured in Monte-Carlo!

Twelfth overall, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle nonetheless scored two points as they claimed fourth place on the Power Stage. With both Citroen C3 WRCs making it to the finish, Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT added 16 points to its tally in the Manufacturers' World Championship.

STEPHANE LEFEBVRE SHINES IN SWEDEN

Having only contested Rally Sweden once before ? in 2015 in a DS 3 R5 ? St?phane Lefebvre started this year's event as something of a rookie. In a 2011-2016 generation car, the Frenchman produced a convincing, assured performance.

He devoted day one to learning about the roads and conditions, making a significant step forward in terms of performance on the second runs on the stages. On Saturday, he had to contend with a tough starting position in running second on the road and spent the morning sweeping fresh snow off the racing line. However, it didn't stop him from moving up to eighth place, a position he confirmed on Sunday.

Without the pressure of having to score points for the Manufacturers' World Championship, St?phane therefore made the most of the opportunity to improve on this unique surface. His performance will also do his confidence no harm before next month?s Rally Mexico (9-12 March), which he will be contesting in a C3 WRC.

THE NEED TO DELIVER

"We can take some satisfaction from having had perfect reliability this weekend," stressed Yves Matton. "Craig and St?phane hit the targets we had set them, so they made a substantial contribution to the positive aspect of the weekend. Craig managed to show good speed at those points when he felt more comfortable in the car and adopt a more measured approach at other times, when necessary. St?phane learned about managing a race like this in a wide variety of conditions. It's a positive result for him, considering his limited experience on snow."

"It was a more mixed weekend for Kris. He had a few difficulties feeling entirely at ease in the car on the variety of road surfaces faced. In these conditions, it's not easy to develop your confidence," added the Citroen Racing Team Principal. "There's a good chance the situation will be different in Mexico, where the road surface is more consistent throughout the rally."

DOUBLE PODIUM FOR M-SPORT AT RALLY SWEDEN SHOWDOWN

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:15 AM

As the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC secured a second successive double podium, M-Sport have strengthened their lead at the head of the manufacturers' standings - holding a 20 point advantage over their closest rivals.

Having won four stages and delivered an impressive performance over the course of the weekend, Ott Tanak and Martin Jarveoja were just 3.8 seconds adrift of the lead going into the final-day showdown.

Ultimately however, the pairing struggled to find the confidence-boosting rhythm they had previously enjoyed and had to settle for second place ? reserving an elusive first victory for another day.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta WRC, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured a fine third place overall after being hampered by a less than perfect road position throughout much of the event.

Biding their time, the Frenchmen did what they do best and secured a strong haul of points for their championship defence.

Throughout the field, M-Sport's range of Ford Fiesta rally cars have proved a force to be reckoned with ? securing strong results throughout the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"Two rallies and two double podiums ? it's an incredible result for the team and just goes to prove what a great package we have with the Ford Fiesta WRC. We've extended our lead at the head of the manufacturers' championship, and it has been a fantastic start to the season.

"The momentum in the team is growing with every event. We go to every rally knowing that we have the potential to fight for the podium, and that is a real confidence boost.

"We've had success throughout the rally this weekend, and not only with Ott and Sebastien. In the WRC2 category, Teemu Suninen finished second with the Ford Fiesta R5, and in the two-wheel-drive class Daniel R?jsel was impressive ? claiming victory by more than nine minutes with the Ford Fiesta R2.

"Needless to say, we're extremely happy with the results this weekend and looking forward to another exciting battle at Rally Mexico in three weeks' time."

TANAK AND JARVEOJA SECOND OVERALL AT RALLY SWEDEN
Equalling his best performance in the FIA World Rally Championship, Ott Tanak secured second position at this weekend's Rally Sweden. The result also marked co-driver Martin Jarveoja's best ever result on what is only his second competitive outing at the sport's highest level.

Having always performed well on Sweden's snow-covered stages, a podium had eluded Tanak in the past but he was quick to put that right this weekend ? securing four stage victories and challenging for the win.

As the field embarked on the final day of competition, just 3.8 seconds separated the Estonians from the top-step of the podium. Despite their best efforts however, they struggled to find the same rhythm which had made them such a formidable threat throughout yesterday's stages.

Settling for second place, Tanak continues to enjoy his best ever start to an FIA World Rally Championship season.

Ott Tanak (2nd) said:
"I think it's been a really good weekend for us. I had a new experience opening the road on Friday but when the conditions were more equal yesterday we had some really good speed. I'm happy with that and what we have achieved this weekend has given us a lot of confidence.

"Today, we knew straight away that Jari-Matti [Latvala] would be hard to beat. At the beginning of the first stage we knew that we didn't have the same feeling as yesterday. It was a bit disappointing at the time, knowing that we had no option but to settle for second, but I'm still really happy with my weekend.

"It's been a great start to the season and I have a really good feeling with the car. We've got a great package to build on and, although there is still some work to do behind the scenes, we're ready to give it another big push in Mexico next month."

OGIER AND INGRASSIA THIRD OVERALL AT RALLY SWEDEN
Overcoming all the challenges that Rally Sweden had to offer, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secured a podium result on what was only their second competitive outing behind the wheel of the Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC.

Opening the road throughout the first day of competition, the Frenchmen were hampered by loose snow and a lack of grip but put all of their talent and experience to good use ? keeping themselves within touching distance of the top results.

Embarking on the final day of competition, just 16.6 seconds separated the four-time world champions from the lead before an unlucky spin saw them fall adrift of the fight at the front.

Conserving his third position over the remaining speed tests, Ogier also secured four additional points with the second fastest time through the points-paying Power Stage.

Sebastien Ogier (3rd) said:
"It's been a tough weekend so it's great to be on the podium at the end of the rally. It was a really difficult weekend but we have to look to the positives and we're taking some good points away from this event.

"I didn't have the chance to fight for anything more today as I made a really silly mistake on the first stage of the morning. On the first corner ? just 50 metres into the stage ? we were caught by the inside of a snowbank and spun. I knew I couldn't fight for anything more after that, but looking at the weekend as a whole, I think we have to be happy.

"We knew at the start of the season that we would have a lot less preparation then everyone else. We still need some time to find a perfect feeling with the car but to see the results that we have achieved so far is really encouraging.

"We still need to do some work of course, but I think we have good pace and have had a really positive start to the season so let's see what Mexico brings."

ELSEWHERE IN THE M-SPORT TEAM
Elsewhere in the M-Sport team, Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula came out on top in an epic battle for second position in the WRC 2 category. Quickly getting to grips with his new Ford Fiesta R5, the young Finn secured three stage victories en route to a fine second place on what was only his second ever outing at the Swedish fixture.

Bettered only by local lad Pontus Tidemand who hails from the rally's Varmland region, Suninen had the better of a number of his vastly more experienced rivals and also secured 10th place in the overall standings ? a promising start to his M-Sport debut.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta R5, Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas were learning quickly on a surface they have only ever experienced once before. Setting good pace and regularly challenging their Scandinavian rivals, the Frenchmen secured a fine fourth place overall in the WRC 2 category.

Teemu Suninen (2nd WRC2) said:
"I think we can be happy with our weekend. This was only my second time at Rally Sweden and I was quite happy with my pace and developed a good feeling with the car.

"We had a big battle with Veiby for second place today and it was good to come out on top of that one. The conditions were quite challenging and it wasn't so easy to keep the rear of the car in the ruts, but we had a really clean run and everything worked out okay.

"Now I'm really looking forward to the next events and to continuing our progress."

Eric Camilli (4th WRC2) said:
"I'm really happy with our performance this weekend. We had to learn really quickly as there is only one snow rally on the calendar and this is a surface that I really don't know so well! I think we managed to do that and it was great to challenge with the guys who have a lot of experience on events like this.

"There were a few times when were on course for a really, really good time but we just lost some seconds in the final splits which cost us some stage wins. But I think we've made big progress on snow and I'm looking forward to the next winter encounter!"

ELSEWHERE IN THE SERVICE PARK
Elsewhere in the service park, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt were running in sixth place after running wide and hitting a rock on the first pass of Svullrya (SS4). The mistake resulted in an unlucky puncture and cost the Welshman almost two minutes to the leading pack.

Opening the road for the remainder of the rally, the pairing fought back admirably whilst tasked with the arduous job of sweeping a clean line for the cars behind.

As the final day of competition got underway however, there was late drama for the Brits as their DMACK-clad Ford Fiesta WRC suffered what appeared to be an ignition coil failure over the opening stage of the morning (SS16).

Known for his expert mechanical knowledge, Evans refused to give up the fight and was able to repair the issue before the following speed tests. Thanks to his skill as a technician as well as a driver, he maintained his sixth place and a good haul of points.

In the RC4 class, Sweden's Daniel Rojsel delivered a master class behind the wheel of his one-litre Ecoboost Ford Fiesta R2. Claiming victory by an impressive nine minutes and 26.9 seconds, the Ford Sweden supported youngster also won nine stages and was the highest placed two-wheel-drive competitor.

EMOTIONAL SWEDISH WIN FOR LATVALA

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:14 AM

Jari-Matti Latvala won his fourth Rally Sweden to hand Toyota its first FIA World Rally Champuonship victory since 1999. It was the Finn's 17th career victory, but one of his most emotional.

He faced a season on the sidelines after his Volkswagen team withdrew from the sport at the end of last season, before finally joining the Japanese manufacturer in a late deal.

After a 17-year absence from the FIA World Rally Championship, Toyota is back on the top step just two rallies into its comeback.

Latvala began the final leg with just a slender 3.8sec lead over Ott Tanak after long-time leader Thierry Neuville crashed on Saturday night. He won all three of Sunday's concluding snow and ice-covered speed tests in his Yaris World Rally Car to extend the margin to 29.2sec.

He claimed maximum bonus points from the Power Stage and, after finishing second in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo, holds a four-point lead in the drivers' standings. It is the first time any driver other than four-time champion Sebastien Ogier has led the championship since February 2014.

"It's amazing. A new team, a new car, our second rally and we're winning. I have no words to describe it, I'm so emotional. We're at a good level but now we go forward and it gets more difficult. Mexico is next up and I'm really motivated for the championship," he said.

Tanak, driving a Ford Fiesta, had the upper hand on Latvala on Saturday when he closed in. The Estonian was unhappy with his car's handling on Sunday and, after conceding seven seconds in the opening special stage, he settled for second, matching his career-best result.

Team-mate Sebastien Ogier was also in the victory fight but a spin in the first corner of Sunday's opening test ended his hopes and he finished 30.3sec behind Tanak.

Dani Sordo was the top Hyundai finisher in fourth following Neuville's accident. The Spaniard finished 39.7sec ahead of Craig Breen, who struggled to perfect his Citroen C3's set-up but banked good points from a solid debut in the car.

Elfyn Evans was sixth in another Fiesta, despite losing nearly a minute with an engine misfire in today's opening stage. The Welshman made repairs and the car was restored to full health for the final two tests.

The new-era World Rally Cars take on the challenge of high temperatures and dirt roads for the first time next month when Leon hosts round three at Rally Guanajuato Mexico (9 - 12 March).

Target Achieved for Craig and Scott in Sweden

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:13 AM

At The Thursday morning shakedown of Rally Sweden the Citroen C3 WRCs produced an assured performance, with Craig Breen and Kris Meeke setting the second and fourth fastest times through the 7.23km test. The road was covered with a good layer of ice, but the lack of snow left no room whatsoever for mistakes! Since the tyres used during the shakedown are now included in the overall allocation for the rally, the Citroen crews chose to stick to the three mandatory runs. Everything was ready for the ceremonial start, which was held that evening in Karlstad and afterwards to a 1.9km-long super special stage held at the Karlstad racecourse. Craig admitted to taking it easy so as not to take unnecessary risks early in the rally. After returning to Torsby to spend the night in parc ferme, the cars set off early Friday morning to tackle an opening loop of three stages: R?jden, Hof-Finnskog and Svullyra. Ninth after SS2, Craig gained another place on the next stage. In the afternoon, the itinerary included a second run on these three stages, before the leg concluded with a run on the Torsby stage. He remained eighth until the end of the day, despite a few incidents, such as breaking a front damper when he hit a rock (SS4) and a spin (SS6).
Saturday's leg will once again feature seven timed stages, covering a total of 125km. Tens of thousands of spectators gathered at Colin's Crest, the iconic jump on the V?rgasen stage. Craig and Scott were determined to have an error-free day and started the leg well as they moved up into seventh position on SS7. Gradually improving their pace, the crew's consistency paid off over the course of the afternoon. Drama on the final stage of the day when the rally leader Thierry Neuville took a wheel off meant they ended the day in the top five of the overall standings!
The final leg of Rally Sweden resembled something of a sprint finish, with three stages covering less than 60km. Following two runs on Likenas, the event concluded with Torsby 2, also serving as the Power Stage. After dragging themselves into the top 5 on day two, Craig and Scott 's aim was to hold onto their position. They set about the job in hand by adopting a balanced approach, between going for speed and avoiding taking risks. At the end of the Power Stage, Craig could take some satisfaction from meeting the target set for him by the team before the start. Thanks to two fifth-place finishes in Monte-Carlo and here in Sweden, the Irishman stays in the same position in the Drivers' World Championship.
CRAIG BREEN "I'm pleased to have made it to the finish and to score my first points for a factory team! It was a pretty cool weekend, even though we weren't always completely happy with our performance level. We have to move on. The Citroen C3 WRC has so much potential and I can't wait to be driving it again!" To keep up to date visit www.craigbreen.com or www.citroenracing.com

Latvala wins Rally Sweden and leads championship

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:12 AM

For the first time since Rally China in 1999, Toyota has won a round of the FIA World Rally Championship: on only the second event for the all-new Yaris WRC. Jari-Matti Latvala inherited the lead after yesterday's super special stage, when the former leader broke his steering. Latvala then won all three stages today to extend his advantage and claim the first rally win for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. Juho Hanninen had a trouble-free day and scored more manufacturer points, meaning that TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is now second in the manufacturers' championship, while Latvala heads the drivers' standings, having sealed his 17th career win, his fourth in Sweden, and his first since Mexico 2016. In total, Jari-Matti won six stages: SS1, SS4, SS13, SS16, SS17 and SS18.

Latvala started the day with just a 3.8-second advantage over the second-placed man but won all three stages (including the power stage) to seal an emotional victory, having experienced no problems at all. Hanninen finished just outside the top 20, continuing to test settings for future rallies.

Quotes:
Akio Toyoda (Team chairman)
"It's a great feeling to win a round of the World Rally Championship after a break of 17 years. I have always been looking forward to this moment, but I never imagined that it would come so soon. A special thanks not just to each and every member of the team, but also to all the fans who have been waiting for our return and shared the joy with us. So I'd like to share with everyone a discussion I had with Tommi and Jari-Matti before the start of Rally Sweden about communication with cars. Jari-Matti said he tries to communicate with them with love, and drive them with care. Tommi said he can have a good understanding of how to drive them faster because he loves cars. Their words, full of love for cars, touched me because I feel the same. So my wish is for us all to keep on enjoying this feeling and facing the challenges together to make the Yaris an ever-better car."

Tommi Makinen (Team principal)
"It's very hard to find the words to describe what I am feeling right now: what we are all feeling. Monte-Carlo was an unexpected result, but this is beyond unexpected. Of course we were lucky to have this win, but it's also a huge tribute to the talent of Jari-Matti and the united team work that has taken place in Finland, Germany and Japan. It's an incredible feeling and I just want to thank everybody who has made it possible: especially our chairman Mr Toyoda for his faith in us, Jari-Matti, Miika, Juho, and Kaj. This is a special day that we are all going to remember for a very long time, but at the same time we will keep our feet on the ground now and continue to work as hard as always."

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 10)
"I am so, so happy. For a new team and new car to win its second rally: I really have no words. I think I drove my best power stage ever today. Huge thanks to all the team. Now we are super-motivated to continue like this: I just can't wait to get to Mexico. It's fantastic to win but I also feel very sorry for Thierry Neuville, who lost the lead yesterday at the super special stage. I have been in a similar situation myself in the past, so I completely understand how he must be feeling now. We know we were lucky, so we need to carry on improving and working for our goal."

Juho Hanninen (Driver car 11)
"I am so proud to be part of this team of dedicated and hard-working people and so happy. This is an amazing result for all of us. From our point of view we spent the rally recovering from our mistake on Friday, but we completed plenty of useful testing and I increased my time and confidence in the car."

Results

Posted: February 22, 2017 10:10 AM

1. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:36:03.6
2. Ott Tanak / Martin Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.2
3. Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +59.5
4. Dani Sordo / Marc Marti (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:11.5
5. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2:51.2
6. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:26.6
7. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +5:31.2
8. Stephane Lefebvre / Gabin Moreau (Citroen DS3 WRC) +7:14.7
9. Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson (Skoda Fabia R5) +9:11.1
10. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +10:02.9

WINTER SPORTS FOR THE CITROEN C3 WRCS!

Posted: February 9, 2017 7:39 AM

For the second round of the season, the FIA World Rally Championship competitors will be tackling the only full winter event on the calendar. On the frozen, snow-covered roads of Rally Sweden, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Craig Breen/Scott Martin will be hoping to slide the Citroen C3 WRC to success!

RALLY SWEDEN: SLIDING ALL THE WAY

Part of the World Rally Championship calendar since it began in 1973, Rally Sweden is one of the season's unmissable rounds. Even when temperatures drop to close to -30C - which is unlikely to be the case this year - large numbers of fans still flock to the stages to see the drivers deploy their acrobatic talents to keep their cars on the road. The WRCs flirt with the snow banks as they drift around corners at full speed, providing an unforgettable show for the spectators! According to the drivers, the grip offered by the studded tyres provides a genuinely unique feeling?

The 2017 running of the event includes a number of new features, with the service park now moved to Torsby airport. This configuration means that more than half of the itinerary has been revamped and the competitors will tackle several brand new speed tests. Following Thursday evening's traditional super special stage at the Karlstad racecourse, the crews will head across the border into Norway on Friday's leg. Rojden will be the only stage this season to be contested in two different countries! On Saturday, the highlight will obviously be Varg?sen and the infamous long jump contest held at Colin's Crest. The rally concludes around lunchtime on Sunday, after the Torsby Power Stage.

THE CHALLENGES: KEEP MOVING FORWARD

Packed with incidents and drama, the Rallye Monte-Carlo certainly confirmed how evenly-matched the field is in 2017 and the highly spectacular nature of the new generation of World Rally Cars. For Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT, the opening round of the season did not however meet the team's high expectations. Two short weeks have provided time to analyse the reasons for the disappointing results in the south of France and to fine tune preparations for Sweden.

Having conducted an initial test session in early January, the team will continue - as planned - development of the Citroen C3 WRC this weekend, on road surfaces that resemble those used during the rally as closely as possible.

Once again, two cars nominated to score points in the Manufacturers' World Championship will be competing at this round. Alongside Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Craig Breen and Scott Martin will be making their competitive debut in the C3. Meanwhile, Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau will be competing in a car from the previous generation.

After having matched the pace of the top drivers last year, Kris Meeke lines up in Sweden aiming for victory. Eighth in 2016, on his first rally in a WRC with Citroen Racing, Craig Breen will also be looking for a very good result at one of his favourite events.

YVES MATTON, CITROEN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL
"As soon as we returned from Monaco, the team got to work in a calm and determined fashion. Analysis of the Rallye Monte-Carlo showed that our poor performance stemmed from a series of isolated incidents, more often than not unpredictable, rather than a major underlying problem. We take some comfort from that point of view and we remain confident about our potential. In Sweden, we are obviously hoping for a better result. Once again, Kris Meeke will be aiming to win, whilst Craig Breen will need to learn and improve on his first rally with the C3 WRC. We'll still only have two cars nominated to score points in the Manufacturers' World Championship, but we hope we can make up some ground in the standings."

LAURENT FREGOSI, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
"Over the years, we have learned to cope with the specific challenges posed by this rally. The settings are different to those used on gravel and we have noted in testing that the C3 WRC responds well with our usual solutions. If the conditions deteriorate, with less snow and ice, we will need to be able to adjust the set-up, adapting the suspension to the ruts that form on the racing line. In those sorts of conditions, the tyre's studs tend to break, so we would need to limit this phenomenon by making changes to certain settings. As the cars cover more ground, snow tends to build up on the car and the increased weight can reduce performance. We took this into account when we designed the bodywork, but this phenomenon remains inevitable."

KRIS MEEKE
"After a disappointing Monte-Carlo, both for me and the team as a whole, it's difficult to feel fully confident coming into Rally Sweden. We have learned the lessons from the opening round and we'll come back stronger at the upcoming events. It's a long season. I'm happy to be back at one of my favourite rallies. In theory, I come here aiming to win, but we know that everyone's performance level will depend in large part on the weather conditions. If it snows before the rally, my starting position for the first leg will be ideal. On the other hand, if we have a mild spell that melts the ice, then my chances would be reduced. We'll do our very best."

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 7th (2015)

CRAIG BREEN
"I'm very excited about making my competitive debut with the Citroen C3 WRC! I can't wait to get started. This is something that I've been waiting for all my life. I have good memories from this rally, not least the 2016 event, which was my first WRC outing with Citroen. I'd also say that this surface is little bit more forgiving of minor mistakes, or at least that is the case when there are really compact snow banks! I feel confident in these surroundings, in the car and with the team. And although we don't really know what to expect, I'm ready to rise to the challenge."

Number of appearances at the event: 4
Best result: 8th (2016)


STEPHANE LEFEBVRE
"Rally Sweden is certainly the one where I have the most to learn, since I have only competed here once before, two years ago in the DS 3 R5. So from that point of view, I won't be frustrated to be driving a previous-generation car. With the pressure off, I'll be able to progress at my own pace. My aim will be to bounce back after a difficult Monte-Carlo. It's difficult to make predictions or to set myself a specific target, but we'll be looking to seize the slightest opportunity to score points."

Number of appearances at the event: 1

Breen moves up a gear for WRC Rally Sweden

Posted: February 9, 2017 7:38 AM

For the second round of the season, the FIA World Rally Championship competitors will be tackling the only full winter event on the calendar. This time out Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin take on the frozen, snow-covered roads of Rally Sweden and the pair will be doing so for the first time in the all-new 2017 Citroen C3 WRC!

The 2017 running of the event includes a number of new features, with the service park now moved to Torsby airport. This configuration means that more than half of the itinerary has been revamped and the competitors will tackle several brand new speed tests. Following Thursday evening's traditional super special stage at the Karlstad racecourse, the crews will head across the border into Norway on Friday's leg. Rojden will be the only stage this season to be contested in two different countries! On Saturday, the highlight will obviously be Varg?sen and the infamous long jump contest held at Colin's Crest. The rally concludes around lunchtime on Sunday, after the Torsby Power Stage.

Packed with incidents and drama, the Rallye Monte-Carlo certainly confirmed how evenly-matched the field is in 2017 and the highly spectacular nature of the new generation of World Rally Cars. For Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT, the opening round of the season did not however meet the team's high expectations. Two short weeks have provided time to analyse the reasons for the disappointing results in the south of France and to fine tune preparations for Sweden. Having conducted an initial test session in early January, the team will continue - as planned - development of the Citroen C3 WRC this weekend, on road surfaces that resemble those used during the rally as closely as possible. Once again two cars nominated to score points in the Manufacturers' World Championship will be competing at this round. Alongside Craig and Scott will be Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle. Meanwhile, Stephane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau will be competing in a car from the previous generation.

Event statistics: 18 timed stages covering a total of 331.74 km. 57.8 % of the stages are new compared with 2016. 45 metres is the record jump on Colin's Crest, set by Eyvind Brynildsen in 2016. 384 studs per Michelin X-Ice North 3 tyre. They take 45 minutes to install on each tyre. 113.44 kph was the average speed of the winner of the 2016 Rally Sweden. Which was lower than the 114.84 kph recorded by Sebastien Loeb's Citroen Xsara WRC in 2004!

CRAIG BREEN "I'm very excited about making my competitive debut with the Citroen C3 WRC! I can't wait to get started. This is something that I've been waiting for all my life. I have good memories from this rally, not least the 2016 event, which was my first WRC outing with Citroen. I'd also say that this surface is little bit more forgiving of minor mistakes, or at least that is the case when there are really compact snow banks! I feel confident in these surroundings, in the car and with the team. And although we don't really know what to expect, I'm ready to rise to the challenge."

Ice, ice baby!

Posted: February 9, 2017 7:37 AM

The all-new specification World Rally Cars head for another fresh challenge as the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to the snowy and remote forests of Sweden and Norway for the only true winter round in the series. And, once again, fans can catch all the spectacular sideways action on Red Bull TV.

Skinny tyres equipped with tungsten-tipped steel studs are essential on this weekend's Rally Sweden (9-12 February) and provide remarkable grip as they penetrate the frozen ground. Drivers can often be seen wearing heated racing boots and anti-glare glasses that provide greater definition of the landscape.

The backdrop of the white forests provides a unique spectacle in the World Rally Championship and while a loose surface car set-up is the norm, engineers are forced to find solutions to keep the cars running optimally in these sub-zero temperatures.

Because of its specialised nature, Rally Sweden has been dominated by the Scandinavians during the 63 years it has run, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb becoming the first outsider to claim victory back in 2004. Since then, only Sebastien Ogier has achieved a similar feat.

Underlining his on-going superiority, Ogier won last month's season opener in Monte Carlo on his debut for the M-Sport team - now the four-time champion is aiming to build on that success in Sweden.

"We had a dream start to the season, but we can't let that distract us. There is still a lot of work to do and Rally Sweden is a truly unique event," he said.

"It's an event that I really enjoy and we reach incredible speeds on the snow and ice - something that will only increase with the new cars this year. That means that there are no margins for error and you have to be very precise. There are often just a handful of seconds separating each competitor, so every second really does count.

"If we can secure another podium result, it would be a fantastic start and surpass all of our expectations this early in the year. I see no reason why we can't be quietly confident of that, but at the same time it will require a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

"We've not yet seen everyone's true potential, and I'm expecting a very exciting and very close-fought Rally Sweden."

Ice to meet you, Andreas

Red Bull TV will be broadcasting from Rally Sweden, round two of the World Rally Championship, with live coverage and special features.

Red Bull TV's guest reporter for this second stop of the championship is none other than Andreas Mikkelsen: a driver who has stood on the podium of this epic winter event twice.

Not only that but the Norwegian has won three world rallies and also finished third in the world championship for the last three years, as well as storming the WRC2 class in Monte-Carlo last month.

The 27-year-old has got looks, talent and intelligence. In fact, he's got pretty much everything apart from a full-time drive, following Volkswagen's shock withdrawal last year. Still, their loss is our gain this weekend. Andreas, reporting in Sweden together with Mike Chen, will bring the unique inside perspective of a modern rally driver to Red Bull TV's coverage. Catch him while you can.

The first dedicated WRC programme on Red Bull TV is at 9pm* on Friday 10 February with further daily highlights broadcast at 9pm* on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Saturday's live coverage starts at 1.50pm*.

All shows will remain available to watch on-demand on Red Bull TV once the rally has finished. Red Bull TV is available to watch entirely free of charge online at redbull.tv and via mobile, laptop or smart television, or on the dedicated Red Bull TV app, available both for iPhone and Android.

* All times stated are Ireland/UK

Ogier on Sweden: 'Win mustn't be a distraction'

Posted: February 9, 2017 7:36 AM

Sebastien Ogier believes a podium at this week's Rally Sweden to follow up last month's Rallye Monte-Carlo victory would exceed his pre-season expectations.

The four-time world champion was a shock winner in the French Alps after hardly any testing in M-Sport's new Ford Fiesta World Rally Car. However, he warned against reading too much into that success heading into the season's only pure winter encounter.

"We had a dream start to the season at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but we can't let that distract us. There is still a lot of work to do and Rally Sweden is a truly unique event," he said.

"If we can secure another podium result it would be a fantastic start and surpass all of our expectations this early in the year. I see no reason why we can't be quietly confident of that, but at the same time it will require a lot of hard work behind the scenes."

Ogier's fourth consecutive Monte-Carlo win put the Frenchman in a familiar position at the head of the FIA World Rally Championship after the first of 13 rounds.

But he believes the tricky Monte conditions, where guile and clever driving counted for more than pure pace, means it cannot be used as a reliable form guide for the new-era 2017 World Rally Cars.

"We've not yet seen everyone's true potential and I'm expecting a very exciting and very close-fought Rally Sweden," he said.

The Frenchman added two more days of snow and ice testing last week to the limited time he has enjoyed in the Fiesta after only signing for the British M-Sport squad in December.

"We had a really good test. Conditions were very good, very cold with icy roads and I hope we will have the same on the rally. It was my third and fourth days in the car on snow after two days in December, so I feel much more prepared now than I was before Monte-Carlo," he told WRC Live.

"The feeling was very good but it's hard to judge the performance as everything is new. Sweden is one of the highlights of the season, the speeds on snow and ice are incredible. That means you have to be very precise with little margin for error," he added.

M-Sport - CHASING SUCCESS ON SWEDEN'S SNOW-COVERED STAGES

Posted: February 9, 2017 7:31 AM

Chasing success on the snow-covered stages of Rally Sweden, M-Sport's Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs will take to the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship next week.

After securing victory at the opening round of the season, the team are quietly confident of challenging for another strong result. Having proved its performance, the Fiesta secured seven fastest stage times at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but the Cumbrian squad have not let the taste of champagne distract them from the job in hand.

Completing two separate five-day tests in the lead-up to the only snow rally of the year, the team have worked on further improvements as well as developing the ideal set-up for Sweden's unique and challenging terrain.

Having historically performed well at the Scandinavian fixture, the Blue Oval's popularity is highlighted by M-Sport's range of Ford Fiesta rally cars accounting for 50 percent of the entry.

RALLY SWEDEN A UNIQUE WINTER RALLY
Unique to the FIA World Rally Championship, Rally Sweden is the only true winter event on the calendar. Let loose in their gravel specification, the Ford Fiesta WRCs will reach incredible speeds as studded tyres bite through the snow to capture grip on the hard ice below.

A traditional Rally Sweden can see temperatures as low as -20C and hard-packed snowbanks which allow the crews to guide their cars through corners at tremendous speed. In recent years however, milder conditions have provided further challenges.

The warmer conditions see compacted snow replaced by loose snowbanks and there is an ever-present risk of becoming ensnared in their icy grasp. If that weren't enough, tyre management is also key. On ice-covered stages, tungsten-tipped steel studs are a driver's best friend but, as the temperatures hover above zero, protruding gravel can rip them from the tyres which result in a substantial lack of traction.

This year, the service park moves north to Torsby with stages deep in the frozen forests of both Sweden and Norway. Almost 58 percent of the route has been revised compared to 2016 and includes a brand-new stage - Hof-Finnskog - which has never before been seen in competition.

MALCOLM WILSON THE TEAM PRINCIPAL
Team Principal Malcolm Wilson was delighted with the team's performance at Rallye Monte-Carlo but remains aware of the challenges ahead and the work required to continue at the highest level.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"We've had a fantastic start to the season, but the hard work has not stopped. Making a return to the top-step of the podium was exactly what our team deserved, but we're fully aware that the hard work must continue if we want to achieve our objectives and regularly challenge at the head of the field.

"Rally Sweden is a unique event but it's also an event where we have historically performed well. Sebastien has won the event three times which is very impressive for a non-Scandinavian and Ott loves the high speed so I think we can be quietly confident of challenging for the podium positions once again.

"Sweden is notorious for close-fought competition, and success will not come without hard work and preparation. We know that we have a good base car in the Fiesta, but we are under no illusions about how closely the championship will be contested this year.

"We've had a brilliant start, but all four manufacturers have the potential to secure victory next week and we will need to be at the top of our game if we are to secure another podium result. It's what we are all aiming for, but it won't be easy." OGIER AND INGRASSIA THE FOUR-TIME WORLD CHAMPIONS

When it comes to Rally Sweden, the Scandinavians reign supreme. Only two men have ever contradicted that rule, and Sebastien Ogier has done so on three separate occasions - making him the most successful 'outsider' in the history of the event.

Coming off the back of a dream start with the M-Sport team, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia could well secure another strong result next week and should never be discounted when it comes to the fight for the podium positions.

Previous starts: 7
Best result: 1st (2016, 2015 and 2013)

Sebastien Ogier said:
"We had a dream start to the season at Rallye Monte-Carlo, but we can't let that distract us. There is still a lot of work to do and Rally Sweden is a truly unique event.

"It's an event that I really enjoy and we reach incredible speeds on the snow and ice - something that will only increase with the new cars this year. That means that there are no margins for error and you have to be very precise. There are often just a handful of seconds separating each competitor, so every second really does count.

"If we can secure another podium result next week, it would be a fantastic start and surpass all of our expectations this early in the year. I see no reason why we can't be quietly confident of that, but at the same time it will require a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

"We've not yet seen everyone's true potential, and I'm expected a very exciting and very close-fought Rally Sweden."

TANAK AND JARVEOJA A DETERMINED NEW PARTNERSHIP
When it comes to Ott Tanak, one thing is for certain - he relishes high-speed rallies. Rally Sweden sees some of the highest speeds of the year and the Estonian will undoubtedly be one to watch.

A Swedish podium may have eluded Tanak in the past, but he and co-driver Martin Jarveoja have every chance of putting that right next week. His best result of fourth came in 2015 and since then he has gained a wealth of knowledge, experience and fortitude - all of which could see him break into the top-three.

Previous starts: 5
Best result: 4th (2015)

Ott Tanak said:
"I'm really looking forward to Rally Sweden. It's one of my favourite events on the calendar and the high-speed stages give you such an adrenaline rush. This year, with the more powerful cars, it will be something very special.

"The stages are so much fun to drive - really fast and flowing, and very smooth. We need to be relaxed and focused and get into a good rhythm. I hope for nice ice conditions and to be in a position to fight at the top.

"The most important thing will be to have a good feeling from the start and then have a clean run. Hopefully the weather conditions will be in our favour and we can have some nice snowbanks to give us some extra support if needed.

"The lines are also very narrow and that's maybe the most difficult part of the rally. In case of fresh snow you need to make sure you stay in the line - otherwise you go from good grip to no grip at all!

"I can't wait to get back behind the wheel, and I think we have the potential to secure another good result."

ELSEWHERE IN THE M-SPORT TEAM
Elsewhere in the M-Sport team, Eric Camilli and Benjamin Veillas will team up alongside Teemu Suninen and Mikko Markkula as both pairings take to the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 in the FIA World Rally Championship's premier support series - WRC 2.

Going head-to-head with some of Scandinavia's finest competitors, Camilli will be keen to prove his potential whilst gaining the vital knowledge and experience to further progress his career.

Suninen made his Swedish debut at the event last year and impressed with a spectacular second place in class - just 14.6 seconds adrift of Elfyn Evans having outclassed his fellow Scandinavian rivals.

This year, the young Finn could well better that performance and certainly has the talent to challenge for victory.

Eric Camilli said:
"As the only winter rally on the calendar, Rally Sweden is special. I drove my first ever snow rally at this event last year and although it didn't end as we would have hoped, I really enjoy the sensation of driving on snow.

"There is still a lot for me to learn when it comes to winter rallying, but I am looking forward to the challenges ahead. Driving a winter rally gives you an incredible sensation of speed but our top priority will be continue to learn this unfamiliar surface.

"We have a test on Monday to get accustomed to the snow and to find a good set-up for the rally. Then, we'll just have to wait and see what happens. The competition will be really strong, but we go to every event with the intention of doing our best."

Teemu Suninen said:
"This will be just my second attempt at Rally Sweden. Last year we aimed only to gain experience and finished second in class which was a really nice result on our debut at the event.

"This year, it will perhaps be easier for me to start this rally. I have seen what kind of event it is, what challenges to expect and I know how best to prepare.

"We are now in a different location, facing some new stages, but the key challenges remain the same. We need to take care of the tyres, and maintain a good pace.

"It will be a challenge to improve on last year's result as there will be a lot of very talented drivers in Sweden, but it would be the perfect start to a very exciting season if we could achieve that."

ELSEWHERE IN THE SERVICE PARK
Elsewhere in the service park, Elfyn Evans and Daniel Barritt take to the wheel of their DMACK-clad Ford Fiesta WRC as M-Sport's third nominated point-scorers.

Having secured three stage victories at last month's Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Brits have proven that they have the pace and could well spring another surprise next week. Last year, the Welshman had the better of his Scandinavian rivals and stormed to an impressive victory in the WRC 2 category.

Also taking to the wheel of the all-new Fiesta WRC is Mads Ostberg and compatriot co-driver Ola Fl?ene. The Norwegians will be making their first appearance of the season next week, and consider the Swedish fixture very much a home event.

Ostberg has an excellent track record on the snow-covered stages. Having contested the event six times with a world rally car, he has appeared on the podium five times and has the potential to continue that trend next week.

Other familiar faces include Lorenzo Bertelli and Simone Scattolin who will be taking to the wheel of last year's Ford Fiesta RS WRC in the new-for-2017 WRC Trophy.

In the WRC 2 category, a number of high-profile drivers will be taking to the wheel of the Fiesta R5 including Norwegians Anders Gr?ndal and Eyvind Brynildsen, ERC rally winner Alexey Lukyanuk, and former DDFT competitor Gus Greensmith.

Further down the field, one of Sweden's most talented youngsters, Daniel Rojsel will take to the wheel of a Ford Fiesta R2 in direct competition with Oscar Solberg - son of Henning - in a similar Fiesta R2.

MEET THE TEAM MIGUEL CUNHA
Having joined the Cumbrian squad in 2000, Miguel Cunha has been an integral part of the team for the past 17 years.

Since playing a part in the team's consecutive manufacturer titles in 2006 and 2007, Cunha has progressed through the ranks and is currently employed as the Chief Technician to Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.

In the lead up to Rally Sweden - one of the most challenging events for our technicians - we caught up with Portugal's honorary Cumbrian.

How long have you been with M-Sport and what made you join the team?
I've always been quite a determined and ambitious person. Back in 2000 I wanted a new challenge, so I moved from my home in Portugal to work at M-Sport in the north of England.

At the time, I don't think I realised how much of a challenge it was going to be. I didn't speak any English, and that was definitely the hardest part - I had to learn very quickly.

I was quite home sick at times and, if I'm honest, there were a few times when I thought about going home. But that's not me; that's not what I'm about. I didn't give up and I'm so happy about that. I love my job and now I live in Cockermouth with my wife and my two young sons.

What would you consider your greatest achievement and fondest memory as part of the team?
That is an easy one - winning the manufacturers' title for the first time in 2006. We were in New Zealand and it was an amazing feeling. The whole team really came together, and we knew that we were the best - we had done it, we had won the championship. There was a pretty big party that night!

What does your job entail?
My role on events is to look after Sebastien Ogier's Fiesta. I'm the chief technician and it's my job to ensure that everything is running as it should. I have a team of technicians working alongside me and we work together to get the job done.

I work closely with the engineer to ensure everything that needs doing is done. It could be anything from a small set-up change, to replacing a full corner. No service is ever the same and you have to be organised and have a good structure in place to master any challenge.

In the workshop, it's a little bit different as I head up the builds and rebuilds of all the latest world rally cars. Last year I didn't travel to events - I stayed with the test team and learnt everything there is to know about these new cars.

It's a big job, but when you have a result like the one in Monte-Carlo last month, it's also a very rewarding one.

What is it like to work with the four-time World Champion?
In many ways he's just a normal guy, but in other ways you can see exactly why he's as good as he is. Sebastien and Julien are both really nice guys and straight away you could see the respect that they have for the team.

But there's a reason why they have won four world championships, and I think that's down to their attention to detail. In that respect, they remind me a lot Carlos Sainz. He was the same. Everything had to be just so, and it's that level of precision that delivers results.

What makes Rally Sweden so challenging for the technicians?
The cold; we service outside and trust me when I say that it is cold. Rally Sweden might not be known as a car breaker, but it definitely delivers the most challenging services for the technicians.

The simplest of jobs are made that much harder in those temperatures. You lose all feeling in your hands and that is a technician's worst nightmare!

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's winter warriors set for snow and ice action in Sweden

Posted: February 3, 2017 6:56 AM

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team and its drivers, Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hanninen, are set to take on the high-speed snowy and icy stages of Rally Sweden from February 9 to 12. The team now aims to consolidate its 2017 learning programme and build on its return to FIA World Rally Championship action on Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, where Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttilla guided their Toyota Yaris WRC to an unexpected second place. With Toyota's commitment to the WRC for the long term, car development and team progression remain the priority this season as opposed to rapid stage performances.

Rally Sweden has been a winter event since it became a founding round of the world championship in 1973. And snow and ice are key to creating the spectacle. Metal studs inserted into the tyres punch through the ice to find grip, while drivers use the snow banks to stay on the road by ?leaning' through the corners: provided there is enough snow to do it.

In keeping with Rally Sweden tradition, a super special stage in Karlstad opens the action on the Thursday evening (February 9). The bulk of Friday's competition is based across the border in Norway with the Rojden stage actually running between both countries. Crews will demonstrate their jumping prowess on Saturday when they attempt the famous Colin's Crest on the Vargasen stage as the rally returns to Sweden for the final two days. The event concludes with the Torsby Power Stage from 12:18 CET on Sunday ahead of the ceremonial finish at the town's airport, which doubles as the service park for the event. Almost 60 per cent of the competitive route is new for this year with 331.74 stage kilometres.

Tommi Makinen and Latvala are triple winners of the rally, while Toyota also has three Rally Sweden victories to its name from the past. Latvala and Hanninen prepared for Rally Sweden with total of 5 days of testing in Central Finland.

Tommi Makinen, Team Principal
"We've had a very busy time since Monte Carlo, with snow testing and also travelling to Japan for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing press conference. Sweden has fewer questions for us as we have some idea where we are now in terms of performance, but maybe the expectation is more given Jari-Matti's second place. We have done a lot of testing on snow and also on gravel: this is really useful as well because the set-up for gravel is not so different than for snow. Of course, this is a very fast rally: actually even faster than Finland in many places. But we have found some high-speed roads for testing so we hope that we are quite well prepared. We have to work on reliability as we had some small problems in Monte that were troubling Jari-Matti a little bit, but in general I am quite happy with this side of things as well. We know we still have a lot to learn and the target in Sweden, which should suit our drivers well, is to make more progress."

Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver Car 10)
"I have some very nice memories of Sweden as this was my first rally win, back in 2008, but the circumstances are very different now! I did some snow testing before Christmas with the Yaris WRC and last week as well: even in that short time there have been some big improvements in the car and the whole team, which is the main aim as our target more than anything else this year is just to keep getting better. The result in Monte was a very nice surprise but I don't think it's realistic to expect the same in Sweden: we need to remember that this is still a completely new team and brand new project. So far the temperature in Sweden seems to be quite warm, so we could find conditions similar to previous years, which are never easy. I hope we get some nice minus degrees soon, as that will provide the best show for everyone."

Juho Hanninen (Driver Car 11)
"I have done three days of testing on snow, with the aim of finding a good set-up. In Monte, I had a really good set-up before the start of the rally, which actually I did not change much: this was a key to finding good confidence with the car. I learned a lot from Monte, but as Sweden is so different, it's really like starting over again. Of course it will depend a lot on the conditions: during the test we also tried to find roads that were a bit damaged so we could simulate what we might find on the rally and see how the car moves when the studs come out of the tyres. I'm looking forward to the weekend, as Sweden is one of the rallies I have done most and of course the tyre choice is a lot simpler than it is on Monte. But we will still approach it in the same way, step by step, as our preparation time has not been big."

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