Swedish Rally Subaru World Rally Team preview

</pre> The Swedish Rally is the World Championship's only true snow event, although in recent years, unusually warm conditions have meant that stage surfaces are more likely to be a mixture of ice, gravel and snow. In an effort to re-address...

</pre> The Swedish Rally is the World Championship's only true snow event, although in recent years, unusually warm conditions have meant that stage surfaces are more likely to be a mixture of ice, gravel and snow. In an effort to re-address the situation, this year the event features a number of new stages and does away with those to the south of the host city, Karlstad. Scandinavian drivers, who thrive in the unique conditions, have traditionally dominated the event and are masters at controlling the cars on spiked tyres over the slippery stages. In it's 50-year history, the rally has only ever been won by Swedes or Finns. But despite the icy forest tracks that make up the majority of stage miles, Sweden is a very high-speed event. And with cornering techniques often involving the help of the snow banks that line the stages, it is one that calls for nerves of steel from the drivers.

Between The Rallies

In the short period between Monte Carlo and Sweden, Richard Burns has been busy establishing his new home in Andorra, and checking out the skiing in the Principality. Andorra has the highest and the largest area for skiing in the Pyrenees. 1,083 snow cannons ensure that skiing is possible throughout the season, providing the ideal relaxation away from the rigours of the WRC. The team also completed three days of damper development work on gravel and asphalt roads in Spain and a five day pre-event test in the North of Sweden.


The Subaru World Rally Team will be nominating Richard Burns and Petter Solberg for the rally, with Markko Martin fielding a third factory Impreza WRC2001.

The Swedish Rally also marks the start of the FIA Teams' Cup contest for 2001, and Allstars drivers Hamed Al Wahaibi and Frederic Dor are entered in a pair of Subaru Impreza MY2001 specification cars.

The Car

The Subaru World Rally Team will be running three Impreza WRC2001 cars on the rally. Each of which has been specially prepared for the unique conditions found on the Swedish stages. Of particular note in Sweden are regulations that allow up to 20mm tungsten studs in the tyres. In the period since Monte Carlo the team have also identified and rectified the cause of Richard Burns and Markko Martin's electrical failures.

According to Chief Engineer Christian Loriaux, conditions in Sweden require a complex set up: "After the Safari Rally of Kenya, Sweden is the second fastest event in the Championship, and this, combined with the unusual stage surfaces and freezing temperatures demand a very specialised set up. Very often the car preparation for a rally will involve fine-tuning a standard gravel or tarmac set-up, but Sweden and Safari are the two exceptions. It's a completely different set of rules for these two events. In Sweden the suspension has to be quite soft to generate good grip, but firm enough to give the drivers confidence in the stability at high speeds. The high-speed corners also make this a rally where the aerodynamic devices on the car make a significant difference. Temperatures can drop to -30 degrees Celsius, so it's also important to protect the cooling system. We will probably blank off parts of the radiator system to prevent damage from the wind chill. The cars will be running on 16inch wheel rims fitted with studded tyres that are just 135mmm wide to achieve a high-pressure contact patch on the road. Finally, and just in case, regulations state that each car must carry two snow shovels!"

<pre> Event Timetable (local times) Local time in Sweden is GMT +1hour

a.. Friday February 9 Serv A 0831 Torsby 12 minutes SS1 0911 Bjlverud 20.74km SS2 0939 Lnnhjden 18.82km SS3 1030 Bogen 12.78km Serv B 1135 Torsby 22 minutes SS4 1310 Granberget 49.36km Serv C 1457 Torsby 22 minutes SS5 1544 Torntorp 20.38km SS6 1628 Sagfallet 26.48km Serv D 1709 Torsby 47 minutes

Total leg 1 distance 651km (competitive 148.56 km, liaison 502.44km)

a.. Saturday February 10 Serv E 0918 Grngesberg 10 minutes SS7 1004 Kullen 26.81km SS8 1045 Nyhammar 1 27.79km Serv F 1155 Grngesberg 20 minutes SS9 1328 Fredriksberg 34.07km SS10 1418 Silkesberg 15.30km Serv G 1450 Grngesberg 20 minutes SS11 1549 Nyhammer 2 27.79km SS12 1718 Lugnet (Super Special) 2km Serv H 1855 Grngesberg 45 minutes

Total leg distance 802.65km (competitive 133.76km, liaison 668.89km)

a.. Sunday February 11 Serv I 0742 Hagfors 10 minutes SS13 0846 Sgen 1 14.76km SS14 0939 Rammen 1 23.41km Serv J 1017 Hagfors 20 minutes SS15 1131 Sagen 2 14.76km SS16 1224 Ramen 2 23.41km Serv K 1312 Hagfors 20 minutes SS17 1405 Hagfors 21.21km Serv L 1426 Hagfors 20 minutes

Total leg distance 478.81km (competitive 97.55 km, liaison 381.26km) Total event distance 1552.59km (competitive 379.87km, liaison 1932.46km)

Competitive to Overall km ratio 24%

</pre> Driver Quotes

Richard Burns "I'm feeling good and positive ahead of this rally. The mechanical problem that sidelined me in Monte has been identified and sorted and this rally is one of my favourites in the Championship. It's a very high-speed event - and I enjoy those the best. You have to adapt your driving style quite a lot, it's not a place to be taking things gently, you've got to be very aggressive to get the studs gripping properly. In Sweden I'll be concentrating on getting very accurate pace notes as it's these that give you the confidence to throw the car around"

Petter Solberg "I haven't driven here since 1999, but I'm looking forward to getting back on the snow again. Having spent a lot of time driving on the snow in Norway the conditions are quite familiar to me and I think that could give me a slight advantage. There are a lot of good local drivers on this event - including my brother Henning! But I'm not feeling pressured by that audience I'm just going to try and get a good solid result for the team."

Markko Martin "My main objective for Sweden is to actually do some stages, I really want to be able to get some good competitive experience of the car. Sweden is a rally I've done twice before so I know roughly what to expect and it's a surface that I enjoy driving on. We've had some good experiences testing, and using the latest development tyres from Pirelli. The car seems to handle very well in these conditions and the amount of grip available in corners with the studs is amazing.

Hamed Al Wahaibi "The Teams' Cup will be very competitive this year with all entrants having to compete in the same rallies - it's going to be tough out there. But the experience I gained last year in my first season with a World Rally Car, and now with the MY2001 Impreza and with the Allstars back-up, will put me in a good position. I believe I've got a winning combination and I'm going all out to win the Teams' Cup"

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Series WRC
Drivers Richard Burns , Petter Solberg , Frederic Dor , Markko Martin , Christian Loriaux