Good news! Despite concerns about the weather, the Rally Sweden will be going ahead this weekend. Warmer than average temperatures across Scandinavia had put the event in doubt. But organizers have now confirmed it will go ahead, but with the 21 scheduled stages reduced to 13, and the competitive distance cut from 331.21km to 241.48km.
Despite the warmer weather, the Rally Sweden will still offer hugely challenging conditions for all cars, drivers, and engineers, and we are looking forward to pitting the Fabia R5 against everything Sweden – and on Leg 1, Norway – can throw at it.
This event will see the 2016 debut of the ŠKODA Motorsport works teams with our Swedish driving team of Pontus Tidemand/Jonas Andersson looking to mark their 2016 debut with success on home soil, while Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm are keen to keep the momentum from their excellent 9th place finish overall, whilst running independently at the Rallye Monte Carlo.
Of course the Fabia R5 is a popular vehicle for plenty of other teams too and there will be no shortage of them on the start-line at Färjestadstravet in Karlstad.
Team Oreca, which is made up the Finnish pair of Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula, had a great outing in Monte Carlo with their Fabia R5 finishing 12th overall. That result gives them something to build on in Sweden, and the whole team will be fully focused on handling the conditions and pushing for a Top 10 finish.
The Ptock team of driver Hubert Ptaszek and co-driver Kamil Kozdroń finished a hugely creditable 7th in the WRC 2 class in Monte Carlo. The team from Poland is well used to handling wintery conditions and will need to apply all of that knowledge and experience as Ptaszek looks to improve this time out. In Sweden, he will be co-driven by experienced Maciej Szczepaniak for the first time.
Meanwhile the Printsport Oy team’s duo Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjaermoen (title photo above) makes its first start in WRC event with ŠKODA Fabia R5. They will be especially keen to capitalize on home advantage on Friday, when the Rally crosses the border into Norway, to make a strong impact in their only second outing in a Fabia R5.
Meanwhile there will also be the chance for a trip down memory lane for ŠKODA aficionados with two Fabia S2000 making an appearance with independent drivers Glen Ström and Johan Kristoffersen at the wheel, whilst another independent entrant, Henrik Brokner Elvestad, will be giving the Fabia R2 an outing.
Cold weather is expected to return to the region during the event meaning teams will have to be constantly vigilant to the changing conditions around the course if they want to be competitive.
It promises to be a fascinating event, and whilst our main focus will of course be on the ŠKODA Motorsport works team, we will be keeping a close eye on the performance of all the Fabia cars, past and present, as they look to master the conditions and challenge for the podium in its categories and classes.