Rally Sweden set to be a cracker

The first rally of the year was dominated by Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville until his i20 Coupe WRC struck a rock, but the Belgian is ready for the unique all-snow Swedish second round and the brand looking to top the podium this year following second places for both Neuville and Kiwi teammate Hayden Paddon over the past two seasons.

“Our brand new Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, set an impressive pace in Monte-Carlo,” Neuville explained. “As a team, we scored seven stage wins, including the Power Stage, but it was not the result we had hoped for, so we plan to come back fighting in Sweden.

“Sweden is a unique event as it’s the only rally where the cars are fitted with proper studded tyres on snow for the duration of the rally and a lot of experience is necessary to mount a challenge. “Having competed here on many occasions – and with some good results, I’m confident.”

“It’s like a winter wonderland,” Kiwi Hayden pointed out. “It’s one of my favourites, very fast and with lots of jumps. The sensation of driving on the snow, and using the snow banks, is like no other and our i20 Coupe WRCs will run a softer suspension to tackle the big jumps.”

“If we can get good conditions on the road, it becomes a really enjoyable event,” Dani Sordo added. “Speeds get quicker and quicker — we will be looking to push on from Monte and to get a strong result.”

The Hyundai’s will have to work for that win however - Sebastien Ogier won the Monte Carlo Rally on his debut for Ford as Jari-Matti Latvala took second for Toyota on its WRC return and both those men and manufacturers will also be looking for an even better result in Sweden. 

Ott Tanak was third for Ford at the Monte, while Dani Sordo ended up best Hyundai in fourth ahead of Craig Breen in the top Citroen - and an old-spec C3 at that. And don’t rule out Citroen’s Kris Meeke or Stephane Lefebvre’s Citroens, Juho Hanninen’s Toyota and Elfyn Evans Ford, all of which will be looking to bounce back after a tough Monte.

The 18-stage 332km Rally Sweden is WRC’s only true winter rally, with the service park now further north in search of coldest conditions in Torsby. Motorsport Media will keep you posted on progress as the event progresses from today’s test stage.