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M-Sport ready for a classic Rally Sweden

Land of ice and snow


By Emmanuel Touzot

10 February 2018 - 17:04
M-Sport ready for a classic Rally (...)

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are ready to tackle the frozen stages of Rally Sweden – fielding three EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRCs on the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Ready to take the fight to their rivals, Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen have completed a comprehensive test session and are poised to turn Värmland’s winter wonderland into a winter thunderland next week.

Months of wintry weather and freezing temperatures have paved the way for a classic Rally Sweden – high snow banks and a thick layer of ice setting the scene for another thrilling encounter.

As one of the fastest events on the calendar, the Ford Fiesta WRCs will reach mind-blowing speeds as Michelin’s studded X-Ice North 3 tyres bite through the snow to capture grip on the hard ice below.

Leaning on hard-packed snow banks, the drivers guide their cars through corners but lean too hard and they risk becoming victims of the unforgiving terrain – ensnared in the snow with nothing but a shovel and the strength of the spectators to set them free.

As the crews adapt their driving to combat the unique nature of the event, the Swedish fixture has always been one for the brave. The action kick starts with plenty of power slides at the popular Karlstad Super Special before a flurry of popular speed tests in the forests of Sweden, and Norway.

Some classic stages not used since 2013 are returning to the itinerary, but the signature stage remains Vargåsen and the legendary Colin’s Crest where Eyvind Brynildsen jumped his EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R5 a massive 45 metres in 2016.

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“Early reports suggest that we’re in for a classic Rally Sweden with plenty of snow and plenty of action out on the stages. We completed a comprehensive test with all three crews earlier this week and they all came away with a good feeling, so let’s see what we can do.

“We’re expecting the competition to be extremely strong and we know that the Scandinavian drivers will be on top form, but we also have three very strong candidates. Sébastien has won the event three times and Elfyn is also a previous Rally Sweden winner having out-performed the locals as part of the WRC 2 category in 2016.

“Then there’s Teemu. This is his first snow rally with the Fiesta WRC, and only his third overall, so we can’t expect too much from him. But the Finns have always been quick here and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him secure another strong result.

“The scene is set for another epic battle and we’re certainly hoping to be in the mix for at least a podium. If we can secure another strong haul of points for our championship defence, we’ll leave Sweden very happy indeed.”

Sébastien Ogier said:

“It looks as though we are in for a true winter rally next week with everything needed for a classic Rally Sweden. Reports from the region suggest that there’s a good ice base and high snow banks which is everything a driver wants to hear ahead of this event.

“In those conditions, we can reach incredible speeds and lean the cars on the snow banks to help guide us through the corners. It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s not without its challenges.

“There’s certainly an art to driving on snow and you need to be precise. You have to judge the strength of the snow banks perfectly and – with more snow than previous years – there could be a lot of work to do on the Pacenotes.

“As the first car on the road, we’ll also have to wait and see what the conditions are like and we’re certainly not hoping to see any fresh snow on Friday.

“We got the season off to a great start last month, but we all know how strong the competition is and we’re expecting it to be even stronger next week. The Scandinavians are always strong here, but we plan to give them a hard time and secure another strong haul of points for our championship defence.”

Elfyn Evans said:

“Rally Sweden is an event that everyone looks forward to. On a classic Rally Sweden – like what we’re expecting this year – we can reach incredible speeds and if you get it right it’s easily one of the most enjoyable rallies on the calendar.

“The feeling on snow isn’t a million miles away from driving on gravel, but there are certain techniques that we’ll need to adapt and it can take a bit of getting used to at first.

“Vision can often be a challenge – particularly if there is a lot of fresh snow making it difficult to read the road ahead. Our Pacenotes and recce are going to have to be spot on, but we’re ready for it and really looking forward to it.

“There’s something of a score to settle after Monte where we were capable of achieving more than we did, so let’s see what we can do in Sweden.”


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