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The second round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) sees the teams heading north to the only true winter event of the season – the Rally Sweden. It is one of the oldest events on the calendar, having first been run in 1950, and was part of the first ever WRC championship in 1973. This year’s event sees drivers taking on the frozen forest tracks around Torsby, a new base intended to give the rally a more northern and wintery feel. It comprises 18 special stages and a total competitive distance of around 332 km.

The action begins with a super special stage in Karlstad on the Thursday evening. This stage is characterized by power slides as the cars compete around the Karlstad trotting track. It is repeated on the Saturday.

On Friday, six of the seven stages see cars crossing the border into Norway, with one stage, Röjden, actually involving cars starting and finishing in Sweden, but crossing the border mid-stage.

Saturday’s stages are mostly around the town of Hagfors, but also feature the Knon stage which has not been run for the past 14 years. The final day sees just two passes over the Likenäs stage before drivers’ head back to Torsby for the final live TV Power Stage.

Rally Sweden Facts

The 2017 Rally Sweden sees more than half of the route differ from last year, and includes one completely new stage; Friday’s Hof-Finnskog. But there are plenty of favourites still on the schedule, including the famous Colin’s Crest jump in the Vargåsen special stage, which is named in memory of the Scottish rally legend Colin McRae.

The biggest challenge to be contended with at the Rally Sweden is without question the conditions. The event takes place on frozen roads and its signature feature is the snow banks which line the roads and which drivers can lean into to maintain speed when cornering.

Pontus Tidemand / Jonas Andersson, ŠKODA FABIA R5, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Sweden 2016

This is not without its hazards, though, as if temperatures are too warm, the banks can give way and cars end up stranded. Studded tyres are a must, but these also bring challenges. When temperatures hover around freezing, the studs tear up the road surface and exposed gravel rips them from the tyres to leave little traction.

Service Area, ŠKODA Motorsport. Rally Sweden 2016

And with the snow comes low temperatures too, with -25°C not unheard of. This is a challenge for both drivers and the mechanics trying to work on the cars in the bitter cold.

Lastly, all cars will also be carrying snow shovels, just in case, the drivers have to dig themselves out during the rally.

ŠKODA Motorsport enjoyed two podium finishes in the WRC2 standings at the Rally Sweden 2016 and we look forward to making our mark once more in 2017.