As many times before the Swedish Rally Championship season opens with Bergslagsrallyt with start and finish in Hallefors in the region Bergslagen about 300 km from Stockholm. The conditions were perfect with snowy and icy roads in the deep forests and about 5-10 degrees below.
From the first stage to the last Mats Thorszelius, Toyota Corolla WRC, had the rally in his hand. But he was in fact hunted by the veteran Mats Jonsson in a Ford Escort WRC throughout all the rally and at the start of the last stage there were only a few seconds between him and the leader Thorszelius.
-We really have to give the pedal, Thorszelius said to his co-driver, and so they did.
Six seconds separated the two combatants at the finish podium.
Another veteran and many times Swedish Champion took the third place, Kenneth Backlund, in a Production Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII. He was last years winner of the Production class in Uddeholm Swedish Rally. Backlund did not have an easy trip at the end. He had Stig-Olov Walfridsson getting closer and closer during the last day. But some technical trouble made Walfridsson calm down a little bit, finishing second in the Production class.
Into top-ten young P-G Andersson, member of the Swedish Junior Rally Team, took his Suzuki Ignis. He advanced to an impressing ninth place, very promising for him as newt rally will be the Monte Carlo rally. He is entered to a full JWRC season by Suzuki in ani Ignis, and will drive a full Swedish Champion season as well.
Next round of the championship will be the Snow Rally in Ostersund February 13-15 2004.
<pre> General results from Bergslagsrallyt, round 1 of the Swedish Rally Championship, January 3-4: 1) Mats Thorszelius Toyota Corolla WRC 1.15.10,5 2) Mats Jonsson Ford Escort WRC +0.06 3) Kenneth Backlund Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII +1.12,6 4) Eddie Horbing Toyota Corolla WRC +1.14,9 5) Jari Saarinen Ford Escort WRC +1.17,5 6) Stig-Olov Walfridsson Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII +1.24,7 7) Oscar Svedlund Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII +1.38,4 8) Dick Wicksell Subaru WRC +2.51,1 9) P-G Andersson Suzuki Ignis +3.59,1 10) Torbjorn Pahlin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI.