WRC

Swedish Rally: Introduction

The International Swedish Rally 1999 Official Site: http://www.swerally.se Round 2 of the 1999 FIA World Rally Championship 12-14 February 1999 Introduction Welcome to the 1999 International Swedish Rally The Swedish Rally starts on...

The International Swedish Rally 1999 Official Site: http://www.swerally.se Round 2 of the 1999 FIA World Rally Championship 12-14 February 1999

Introduction

Welcome to the 1999 International Swedish Rally

The Swedish Rally starts on Friday, 12 February in Karlstad, Sweden and ends on Sunday afternoon. The rally starts and finishes in Karlstad and heads north-west into Dalarna during the 2nd Leg. The stages are fast and flowing, there are few slow corners or jumps and hopefully there is a lot of snow!

The first two legs contain 142km of competition stages and a final shorter leg of 99km combine to give more than 384km, 1500 total. Leg 2 contains the feared Jutbo stage, the most demanding of the rally and at almost 48kmm one of the longest in the championship. A super special stage at Kalvholmens Motorstadium ends the opening leg with a spectacular floodlit test at Falun ski stadium, where two cars race side by side in the shadow of the massive ski jump, ends the second leg.

A non-Nordic driver has never won the Swedish Rally, mainly due to the specialised driving technique required. The stages are very fast with average speeds of up to 110km/h - similar to Finland but without the 'yumps'. Studded tyres are used to gain grip in the snow and the snow banks on the side of the roads are often used to slow the car down before entering a corner. Also, there are many variations on snow which have different handling characteristics and local drivers have a lot more experience on these surfaces.

Mitsubishi

Event favourite, Tommi Makinen will be determined to make this his third Rally of Sweden victory and second win for the season. Giving him an uncustomary head start over his rivals. In previous years Tommi's start to the season has forced him to come from behind to win the championship.

"I enjoy driving on these kind of roads very much. We showed in Monte Carlo that the car is very good and for a Finn, it is always important to try to beat the Swedes!" said Makinen.

Loix will be competing in his first Swedish Rally and will play a supporting rally to Makinen.

Subaru

Kankkunen, Burns and Thiry will all be competing in Sweden as will Juha Kangas who will drive a Grp N Impreza. Britain's Richard Burns says that despite his relative inexperience of the event, that he has to feel bullish about his prospects, "Like many drivers I guess, I really like Sweden and driving on the snow. To get the tyres and studs to generate grip, you have to work the car about, so your driving style is necessarily flamboyant, and there is nothing to be achieved by being neat."

Juha Kankkunen last won this event in 1986 in a Peugot but after a 2nd place in the Monte he is looking for a top result: "Concentrating on Sweden, I am sure that road position will be critical, and depending on the weather, running second could either help or hinder me. I have seen some great strengths in Pirelli's tyres during testing, so I am definitely looking forward to the rally" Kankkunen.

Toyota

Sweden is Carlos Sainz's favourite rally and lets hope his luck can change. Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya have been on the podium three times from their four outings in Sweden, on each occasion in second position. "Now I think it is possible for a non-Scandinavian driver to win, and to be the first would make the rally particularly exciting. For me, I enjoy driving on the snow and the roads are very fast, which I like, so I'm confident of a good result." said Sainz

The weather conditions make a big difference in Sweden, but I much prefer it if there is quite a lot of snow," said Didier. "Last year we started off with some good stage times, but we were not so lucky throughout the event. I know I can be competitive there, so I am hoping the conditions are good and there are lots of snow banks

Ford

Despite Ford losing the appeal against the disqualification of Colin McRae at the Rally of Monte Carlo, they are still optimistic of their chances in Sweden. Revisions to the water pump system mean the Focus cars will be clear to run in Sweden. The Focus' debut was an impressive one and Colin believes there still is more to be gained from the Focus package and he has always enjoyed Sewden.

Driving for Ford will be Swedish ace Thomas Rastrom who was unlucky not to win last year. Although this will be his first event in the Focus, he does have extensive experience in Sweden and will be a driver to watch. Also, Petter Solberg, a 24 year old Norwegian will driving a third car. Petter's main will be to finish in the top 10

Seat

Watch out for Finns, Marcus Gronholm and Harri Rovanpera in the Seat WRC. Marcus Gronholm is making a one off appearance in the Seat and his experience will hopefully bring an excellent result. "The route this year is similar to last year, so it gives us a good opportunity to build on what we learnt on our Swedish Rally debut in 1998. The SEAT WRC is very good on snow and I hope it snows a lot before the start of the rally" said Ronvapera

Hyundai

New driver, new livery, new sponsors, new developments are the ingredients in place for a dramatic and successful start to the 1999 World Rally Championship for the Hyundai Motor Sport Team. The Swedish Rally marks the debut of the 1999 specification Hyundai Coupe E2 and the beginning of the Hyundai team's challenge for Formula 2 World Championship honours - the only team to be seriously competing for this honour. Lining up for the start will be three times winner of the Swedish Rally, Kenneth Eriksson along with his new teammate for 1999, Alister McRae.

Tyres:

Drivers will be using studded tyres for the whole event. The important factor about studded tyres is actually the length and size of the stud rather than the rubber compound. Studs that are too short to cut through the thick snow and ice will leave a driver unable to obtain good grip while studs that are too long will simply be ripped out of the tyre by the gravel beneath the ice. Last year Michelin won every stage of the event - this year Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi are on Michelins while Subaru and Seat use Pirellis. Pirelli though has produced a new range of snow tyres for 99.

Weather:

Good conditions are forecast over the rally - it should be cloudy on Friday and sunny on Saturday and Sunday with a temperature range of -12 deg C to 0 deg C

------------------------------------------------------ [Current Championship Points]

1999 FIA World Rally Championship: Manufacturers Classification after the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo (MC)

Mitsubishi        10
Subaru                7
Seat                5
Toyota                4
Ford                0

1999 FIA World Rally Championship: Drivers Classification after the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo (MC)

Makinen                10
Kankkunen        6
Auriol                4
Delecour        3
Thiry                2
Liatti                1

------------------------------------------------------ [1998 Rally of Sweden (Top 10)]

1 T.Makinen/R.Mannisenmaki FIN        Mitsubishi Lancer        
2 C.Sainz/L.Moya E/E                    Toyota Corolla         
3 J.Kankkunen/J.Repo FIN/FIN            Ford Escort                 
4 K.Eriksson/S.Parmander S/S                Subaru Impreza        
5 M.Gronholm/T.Rautiainen                Toyota Celcia GT4         
6 D.Auriol/D.Giraudet F/F               Toyota Corolla        
7 U.Nittel/T.Thorner D/S                Mit Carisma                
8 P.Liatti/F.Pons I/I                        Subaru Impreza        
9 B.Thiry/S.Prevot B/B                  Ford Escort                 
10 M.Jonsson/J.Johansson S/S                Ford Escort Cos.        

Group N 1 S.Walfridson/G.Barth S/S Mit Lancer Evo IV 2 K.Backlund/T.Andersson S/S Mit Lancer Evo IV 3 J.Kangas/J.Lakksonen FIN/FIN Mit Carisma GT

Formula 2 \1 J.Jonasson/P.Svensson S/S Seat Ibiza Kit Car 2 T.Gardemeister/P.LukanderFIN/FI Nissan Sunny GTI 3 A.Nilsson/M.Kangas S/S Ford Escort RS 2000

------------------------------------------------------ [Recent Winners]

1998 Tommi Makinen (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV) 1997 Kenneth Eriksson (Subaru WRC) 1996 Tommi Makinen (Mitsubishi Lancer RS) 1995 Kenneth Eriksson (Mitsubishi Lancer RS) 1994 Thomas Rådstrom (Toyota Celica GT4) 1993 Mats Jonsson (Toyota Celica Turbo 4wd) 1992 Mats Jonsson (Toyota Celica GT4) 1991 Kenneth Eriksson (Mitsubishi Galant VR4) 1990 The rally was cancelled due to weather conditions 1989 Ingvar Carlsson (Mazda 323 4wd Turbo) 1988 Markku Alen (Lancia Delta HF 4wd) 1987 Timo Salonen (Mazda 323 4 wd Turbo) 1986 Juha Kankkunen (Peugeot 205 T16) 1985 Ari Vatanen (Peugeot 205 T16) 1984 Stig Blomqvist (Audi Quattro) 1983 Hannu Mikkola (Audi Quattro) 1982 Stig Blomqvist (Audi Quattro) 1981 Hannu Mikkola (Audi Quattro) 1980 Anders Kullang (Opel Ascona 400)

From: "Cynan 'Dusty' Rhodes" <cynan@harvestroad.com.au>

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Richard Burns , Harri Rovanpera , Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Alister McRae , Thomas Radstrom , Juha Kankkunen , Kenneth Eriksson , Luis Moya , Ari Vatanen , Markku Alen , Stig Blomqvist , Ingvar Carlsson , Hannu Mikkola