The route of the only snow rally of the season has remained quite unchanged for the last three years, but now there’s quite a few new sections on the route. What remains is the overall structure where each day ends with the Torsby stage while the Karlstad super special is far from the other stages. The running of the rally has been at stake because there has been very little snow or ice in the area.
The route of the rally was altered 4.2. – read more
Rally Sweden 2020 @ rally-maps.com || Cover image by Tapio Lehtonen (C)
Skalla is probably the longest shakedown of the season at 7.2 km – some hundreds of meters longer than last year. First twisty, then fast and finally a mix of the two – giving a good representation of what’s to come in the upcoming days.
SSS1 Karlstad is the only super special of the season to be driven on snow. It’s a twin-car stage with a bridge-tunnel setup on a trotting track. Last year it suffered from lack of snow and had big ruts.
The second run of the stage was canceled 4.2.
In addition to Monte Carlo, Sweden is the only rally to run on two countries. Two of the the Friday stages on the North-West side of Torsby are driven on Norwegian soil. Half of the stages are new for this year.
SS2+6 Hof-Finnskog has remained unchanged from last year. At just over 21 km it’s the longest stage of the rally. It has been also often the fastest stage of the rally. It has eight junction turns, but most of the roads between them are super fast.
Last year all of Marcus Grönholm, Elfyn Evans and Thierry Neuville had spins on this stage, but Esapekka Lappi’s half-roll became memorable.
At the time of writing the article, the conditions on a part of the stage have been challenging with big muddy ruts and no snow.
SS3+7 Finnskogen was last driven in 2015, back then in slightly different configuration and reversed direction. This year’s version is mostly the same as 2014 with the ending from 2012.
This stage starts on a wide road with a constant flow of bends. After 2.4 km it turns onto a narrower but straighter, very fast road. The stage becomes more technical at a tight junction turn at 10.2 km, and after that there’s still five more junction turns on the way. However, there’s also some fast passages in between, and the last 1.4 km is fast-flowing.
It’s also remarkable that Finnskogen has featured in Rally Norway in 2007 and 2009. There aren’t many stages which have been used in two different WRC events (Kirkenær is another one).
SS4+8 Nyckelvattnet is the only new stage of the rally. Not much is known from its route, but the section from 6.8 to 10.4 km seems very fast. Some more technical sections seem to appear at 1.1 km and 12.1 km. Some of the roads are also quite small, shown on a picture taken by Sveriges Radio (click Visa alla bilder).
The Torsby stage was canceled 4.2.
Torsby is driven just like last year. First very technical, then very fast. The ending is again slow and twisty on a semi-artificial Mickey Mouse section with jumps and tight turns. Dusk will fall on the stage and additional lights will be necessary.
Last year the tricky narrow beginning of the stage caused an off for Jari-Matti Latvala. Meanwhile, his countryman Jari Huttunen won the stage on an R5 Skoda!
Following alternation of the itinerary on 4.2. Torsby was replaced with Torsby Sprint.
SS5+9 Torsby Sprint includes only the Mickey Mouse like ending of the Torsby stage.
A Saturday stages were cancelled 4.2. and the second runs of the Friday stages moved to Saturday.
Saturday takes the crews South-East from Torsby. Most of the stages are new from last year. Just like the previous years, the day ends with a long liaison to Karlstad and back for the second run of the super special.
Torntorp returns again onto the route after a year off. It’s very fast and flowing on medium wide roads with long straights and only a few tighter corners. There’s more technical passages around 4, 10 and 12 km and a slightly slower section from 14 to 17 km.
For this year Hagfors has a new beginning used on the Ullen stage in 2008. Some footage from Ullen can be seen on this video at 41:10.
The beginning of the stage seems like a relatively technical and quite narrow but still fast forest road. There’s a junction turn at 5.9 km where the stage seems to straighten up a bit.
The section from 8 to 14.2 km has been run on the Sunnemo stage, last in 1999. This footage at 10:58 shows a technical passage with a narrow bridge at 11 km.
Last year’s route is joined at 14.2 km. Here the road is medium wide and angularly fast, slightly technical. At 16.8 km it turns onto a narrower and bumpy road which is still quite fast but more technical. At 18.8 km it reaches the old skiing slope with some tight bends and a jump. Teemu Suninen went into the snowbank on this section last year.
Vargåsen is famous for Colin’s Crest. For this year the stage has a new beginning section. There’s no onboards from the stage but on the map it seems like a straightforwardly fast section.
Last year’s route is joined at 7.5 km where the stage becomes now twisty technical. In 2017 Kris Meeke had an off in a corner which is 9.7 km into this year’s stage.
Meanwhile, last year Teemu Suninen had big impact with a tree at the 14 km mark.
The infamous Colin’s Crest is reached at 14.9 km. We’ve seen many outrageous jumps throughout the years, but last year Sebastien Ogier was the wildest, almost cutting down a big tree.
The stage is a lot faster before and after Colin’s Crest. Just before the finish line there’s a 90° junction turn.
The Sunday program is unchanged from last year, consisting of one long stage repeated and then the short power stage, being a repeat from Friday, making it the third time the ending of the stage is run during the rally.
Following the 4.2. route alteration the second run of Likenäs was made the power stage
SS10+11 Likenäs has retained its format from the past three years. It contains all road styles that the rally has to offer. The beginning is on a rallycross track. A narrow bridge leads onto a technical forest road and in the end it gets faster with some tricky junctions. At 21 km, it’s the second-longest stage of the rally by a close margin.
The pre-rally conditions on the stage have been among the best from the ones I’ve seen, with a layer of ice on the road.
Road conditions and starting order
Just like in Monte Carlo, Sweden is prone to varying and surprising weather. Excess of snow means it’s difficult to be first on the road, but in purely icy conditions it could be beneficial.
Thierry Neuville will be the first car on the road, followed by Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans. Ott Tänak didn’t get any points from Monte Carlo, so he will start at the back along with Jari-Matti Latvala, who was left without a seat and is entering the rally privately, as well Craig Breen, swapped into the third Hyundai at the last minute.
As of now, there’s very little snow in Sweden. The lack of snowbanks also changes the characteristics of driving. The gravel will also pull through quicker, destroying the studs of the tyres quicker. It’s difficult to say which starting position will be most beneficial.
It’s been widely questioned whether the rally can run at all. If the roads are unfrozen, they won’t withstand rallying on studded tyres. Conversely, gravel tyres don’t work in this cold conditions. All we can do now is hope for some cold weather. We could also see a shortened itinerary with some artificial road watering-freezing tricks like in 2016.
The latest news are promising, but weather can still put a force majeure stop onto the event. Tyre quotas could also be increased to cope with the conditions.
Follow It Gets Faster Now! on twitter for latest updates on the situation of Rally Sweden.
EDIT: Added information about Craig Breen taking part in the rally
EDIT 28.1.: Added information about the Sunnemo stage relating to Hagfors stage
EDIT 29.1.: Added photo from Hagfors and official Rally Sweden announcement
EDIT 31.1.: Added second photo from Torntorp
EDIT 1.2. Added more photos from Friday stages and Hagfors
EDIT 2.2: Added more photos from Finnskogen and Hagfors
EDIT 6.2.:Added notes about the cancelled and altered route