› Entered in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 run by team Toksport WRT, Lindholm and co-driver Reeta Hämäläinen from Finland are among the favourites for the category victory at the WRC’s only pure winter rally
› Also competing in Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (SWE/GBR) and Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen (FIN/FIN) start their race for WRC2 championship points
› Second FIA World Rally Championship event for the new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, which during the season opener in Monte-Carlo was fastest car of the class on 16 out of 18 stages
› More than two thirds of the competitors entered into WRC2 at Rally Sweden rely on a Škoda Fabia
Mladá Boleslav, 7 February 2023 – Rally Sweden (9-12 February 2023) will be the second FIA World Rally Championship event for the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. Being fastest of the RC2 class on 16 of the Rallye Monte-Carlo’s 18 stages, the Czech brand’s all-new rally car clearly raised the bar. On the snow and ice covered roads of the Umeå region, a handful of crews competing in Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 are aiming for victory in the support category WRC2.
Škoda Motorsport customer team Toksport WRT travels as defending WRC2 winner to Rallye Sweden, second round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC). Next weekend, the current WRC2 Teams’ standings leader brings a couple of all-new Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 to Umeå. No less than three crews of Toksport WRT are among the favourites for category victory: reigning WRC2 champions Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen from Finland, ten-times Rallye Monte-Carlo stage winners Oliver Solberg, son of former World Rally Champion Petter Solberg, and co-driver Elliott Edmondson (SWE/GBR) as well as 2021 FIA Junior World Rally Champion Sami Pajari and co-driver Enni Mälkönen, also from Finland. In total, 18 of the 25 crews entered into WRC2 rely on one of the different competition variants of the Škoda Fabia.
The stages running through the forests in the Umeå region are deeply covered in ice and snow. Yet, Rally Sweden traditionally is one of the fastest WRC events of the season. Thanks to special tyres, which bite into the frozen ground with 384 studs each, the drivers can rely on seemingly incredible grip. But things can quickly go wrong, as Emil Lindholm experienced last year. “I lost the car in a fast part of the second special stage and ended up in a ditch – that was the end of the rally for me. That should not happen to me again. A drop result is possible within the WRC2 championship. But I want to open my campaign with maximum points from Sweden,” the 26 years old driver of a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 emphasises.
Oliver Solberg and Elliott Edmondson competed at Rallye Monte-Carlo without being registered for WRC2 points. After setting ten fastest times of the class on the Alpine stages, 21 years old Solberg junior is highly motivated for his home event. “I’m hunting WRC2 points for the first time this season. It is absolutely clear that I want to excite my fans during only my second WRC round at the wheel of the Škoda Fabia RS Rally2,” Solberg looks ahead.
Sami Pajari was both unlucky and lucky at the same time at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Due to food poisoning, he had to withdraw on the day of the start. But like Solberg, he was not registered for WRC2 points. So, at least his championship campaign was not affected – Rally Sweden will be his first event in this respect.
In the newly created WRC Masters Cup, which is reserved for drivers over 50 years of age, reigning WRC2 Masters Champions Mauro Miele/Luca Beltrame from Italy (Dream One Racing) look to score big points again. The Škoda crew came second of the category at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Last year, Rally Sweden already has been relocated to Umeå further north of the country. The second WRC round of 2023 is scheduled to start on Thursday evening (9 February) at 7:05 pm local time with a short show stage. On Friday, the teams have to tackle seven stages. On Saturday another seven special follow. On Sunday, after the final three stages the winner will be celebrated on the podium inside Umeå’s Red Barn Arena at around 1:30 pm.
Did you know, that...
...Rally Sweden was held for the first time in 1950? For years it was run as “Rally to the Midnight Sun” during summer and has only been re-scheduled to its current winter date in 1965. In 1973, the event was part of the inaugural World Rally Championship season.
...drivers, in order to achieve a higher cornering speed, often deliberately lean their car against the snow banks lining the track?
...every crew must have a shovel on board to dig their car out of the snow if necessary?
...exactly 30 years ago, Pavel Sibera/Petr Gross won the A5 class with a Škoda Favorit 136L?
Overall standings WRC2/Drivers (before Rally Sweden)
|1||Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2||28 points|
|2||Nikolay Gryazin (ANA), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||20 points|
|3||Pepe López (ESP), Hyundai i20N Rally2||15 points|
|4||Erik Cais (CZE), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2,||12 points|
|5||Adrien Fourmaux (FRA), Ford Fiesta MkII Rally2||10 points|
Overall standings WRC2/Teams (before Rally Sweden)
|1||Toksport WRT 2 (Škoda),||40 points|
|2||M-Sport Ford WRT||30 points|
|3||Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy (Hyundai)||18 points|
2023 FIA World Rally Championship
|Rallye Monte-Carlo||19 - 22 January|
|Rally Sweden||9 - 12 February|
|Guanajuato Rally México||16 - 19 March|
|Croatia Rally||20 - 23 April|
|Rally de Portugal||11 - 14 May|
|Rally Italia Sardinia||1 - 4 June|
|Safari Rally Kenya||22 - 25 June|
|Rally Estonia||20 - 23 July|
|Rally Finland||3 - 6 August|
|Acropolis Rally Greece||7 - 10 September|
|Rally Chile||28 September-1 October|
|Central Europe Rally(CZE/AUT/DEU)||26 - 29 October|
|Rally Japan||16 - 19 November|