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February 15 @ 8:00 am - February 18 @ 5:00 pm
Ventures deep into the frozen and remote forests of Sweden and Norway.
Action begins with big power slides at Thursday night’s spectacular super special stage at Karlstad trotting track, which is repeated 48 hours later.
All but the last of Friday’s seven stages are in Norway. Röjden provides cross-border competition, starting and finishing in Sweden with the middle section in its neighbouring country.
Saturday blends classic Swedish roads near Hagfors with the returning Knon test, last driven 14 years ago.
Just two stage venues in Sunday’s finale. Two passes over the Likenäs test are followed by the live TV Power Stage at Torsby.
The only true winter round – a classic Rally Sweden will be characterised by frozen roads lined with snow banks. Drivers ‘lean’ cars against the banks to guide them round corners.
But in warmer temperatures the banks disintegrate on impact and cars can become stuck in the snow.
Studded tyres are essential and provide remarkable grip but drivers must acclimatise to the ‘floating’ feeling and different braking points.
When temperatures hover around freezing, the studs tear up the road surface and exposed gravel rips them from the tyres to leave little traction.
Outdoor servicing in temperatures as low as -25°C makes normally routine jobs slower and tricky for gloved mechanics.
Loose surface specification but engineering solutions required to make engines work at peak performance in unrelenting cold.
Skinny tyres are fitted with about 380 tungsten-tipped steel studs to bite into the frozen roads. Each stud is 20mm long and weighs 4g. However, just 7mm is exposed, with the rest inserted into the rubber to provide a strong anchor.
Shovels are mandatory in case competitors have to dig their cars out of snow.
First run in 1950 when it was called the Rally to the Midnight Sun as it was held in summer. It became a winter event in 1965.
It featured in the inaugural championship in 1973 and has been dominated by Scandinavians, who won every year until 2004 when Sébastien Loeb broke the mould. Sébastien Ogier is the only other ‘outsider’ to win.
Stig Blomqvist and Marcus Grönholm top the roll of honour with five wins each.
What’s new for 2017
Service park and effective rally base switches to Torsby, a more northerly feel to the event aimed at ensuring full winter conditions.
Almost 58 per cent of the stage distance is new compared to 2016, including Friday’s Hof-Finnskog which has never been used before.
Mid-leg service returns to Friday and Saturday’s itinerary.
Sunday’s live TV Torsby Power Stage finishes in the service park.
Colin’s Crest in Saturday’s Vargåsen stage. As a mark of respect for the late Colin McRae an award is made for the longest jump here. Eyvind Brynildsen set a new record in 2016 with a 45 metre leap. One for the brave!
A visit to Torsby service park is a must. As well as the opportunity to watch the cars being serviced three times a day, two stages finish in the service park itself, including Sunday’s Power Stage finale.