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The International Swedish Rally
Round 2 of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship 8 -11 February 2001
Official FIA Press Release
End of Leg 3, Rovanpera wins!!
Sunday 11th February
Harri Rovanpera secured his first World Rally Championship victory by winning the International Swedish Rally. Rovanpera eventually won by 27 seconds from Thomas Radstrom after Tommi Makinen rolled 2.7km in the final stage.
In previous days, running at the head of field had been a penalty as the following cars benefited from 'cleaner' roads. But with the snow falling for the most of today all was equal and Rovanpera stayed in the front. His choice of tyres, with longer studs than his rivals also proved to be correct.
"It was my first World Championship victory and it's fantastic. We just take it step by step. The last three or four years have been quite difficult. But last year I had two good chances with Toyota and now we will see. After the first leg I had the feeling we could win" said Rovanpera.
Despite the success of Rovanpera, Peugeot had not registered him as eliglible for Manufacturers points. So Peugeot remain on zero manufacturers points, while Rovanpera holds equal lead in the Drivers championship!
Didier Auriol who is still suffering from bronchitis, retired today after the transmission failed in his 206.
Harri Rovanpera: "The car has been fantastic with virtually no problems at all, and even though I'm still learning more about it on every stage I already know it's the best car I've ever driven. I can't wait for Portugal now - I was strong there last year and I think we can do even better this time."
It went from a great result for Mitsubishi to a good result. 2.7km into the final stage and just 20km from securing 2nd position Tommi Makinen rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer out of the rally. Promoted to second though was team mate Thomas Radstrom which was certainly one of the best drives of the event. Radstrom has drafted into the team for this event only and secured valuable manufacturers points. Mitsubishi now have a solid lead in the Manufacturers championship. Freddy Loix climbed into 13th position today gaining experience but little else.
Tommi Makinen said "The tyre choice was very good, we were very happy with that, but we simply made a mistake and went off the road. It was quite a fast section and the car was completely off in a snowbank, there was no way to recover. Very disappointing, obviously"
Thomas Radstom said "The last stage was the most difficult one I‚ve ever done on this rally. It was like an ice-hockey rink in parts The car was all over the place, it was so slippery. Then, when we passed Tommi and saw him off the road, I knew we absolutely had to get the points for the team. The pressure was on, I was anxious not to get passed by Carlos and I was shaking like a leaf the whole stage!"
Second place for Sainz secures his equal lead in the Drivers Championship. He spent the day battling the Thomas Radstrom for third and fourth positions and was just 4.2 seconds behind Radstrom heading into the final stage. Sainz couldn't quite catch him but was more than happy with the final result.
François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup also finished fifth and Colin McRae and Nicky Grist completed a superb fightback from their first day accident to finish ninth and claim two manufacturers‚ points. Ford was the only team with both nominated drivers in the points to retain second in the series.
Quotes: Carlos Sainz said "We tried very hard to catch Thomas in the last stage but conditions were very tricky with snow lying on top of icy ruts. It‚s encouraging to come away at the top of the championship after the two most unpredictable rallies of the series and we must now capitalise on that start."
Colin McRae said "After losing so much time on the first day and having to come from so far back, it‚s quite satisfying to score points for the team. That was my only target. It was an exciting rally and during our run of fastest times, the feeling was fantastic."
Despite not being in contention for outright victory, Richard Burns completely dominated todays stages, winning every one of them. Team mate Markko Martin was also fast, setting several top 3 stage times and was the only driver to challenge Burns.
Richard Burns: "But we have made good use of the time Ų yesterday we worked on some settings, but today we just went at it hard to see what we could achieve."
Petter Solberg: "I know I can drive fast, but for me this has been the hardest rally ever. I just had to make sure that I finished the job for the team, and as an extra prize, I won a point too. It started so badly here, but the rally just got better and better"
Markko Martin: "I was taking it reasonably easy today, and I was really surprised to see that except for Richard we were often the quickest car. After our difficulties on the first day, the rally has just got better and better for us, and it is great to get the car home."
In the final event for the first generation Hyundia Accent, Kenneth Eriksson was lucky to retain 8th postion and 3 manufacturers points. Eriksson was on maximum attack all day trying to keep Colin McRae behind him - and with speed and a jammed gearbox in the Ford, he succeeded. The next generation Accent will be launched at the Rally of Portugal.
Kenneth Eriksson: "I have been fighting very hard all day. I‚ve been flat out at maximum attack. I had no choice as I had to keep Colin [McRae] behind me and he‚s been setting excellent times for the whole rally. The conditions were perfect on the stages and the car also felt perfect all day."
Bruno Thiry benefited from the demise of Tommi Makinen, picking up tenth position and one manufacturers point for Skoda. Skoda are now third in the Manufacturers championship.
Thiry: "I found a good pace on the opening two stages and was pleased with the feel of the car. The combination of falling snow and the high speeds of the stages have made this morning a real challenge but Stephane and myself are both really enjoying this event.
The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is the Rally of Portugal, 8-11 March
UNOFFICIAL FINAL RESULTS
1 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 3:27:01.1
2 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 3:27:29.0
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 3:27:38.1
4 Gardemeister Peugeot 206 WRC 3:29:06.4
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 3:29:26.3
6 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 3:29:49.6
7 Carlsson Toyota Corolla WRC 3:30:19.3
8 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 3:30:36.9
9 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 3:31:29.9
10 Thiry Skoda Octavia WRC 3:32:24.7
1 Walfridsson Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:37:38.3
2 Backlund Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:39:27.7
3 Blomqvist Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:43:58.0
1 Lungaard Toyota Corolla WRC 3:37:45.1
2 Blomqvist Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:43:58.0
3 Kulig Ford Focus WRC 3:45:46.0
CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (provisional standing after 2 of 14 rounds):
FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers:
Mäkinen (FIN) 10
Sainz (E) 10
Delecour (F) 6
Gardemeister (FIN) 5
Radstrom (S) 6
Schwarz (D) 3
Loix (B) 1
Solberg (N) 1
FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers:
FIA World Cup for Drivers of Production Cars
Walfridsson (S) 10
Gillet (CH) 10
Backlund (S) 6
Stohl (A) 6
Blomqvist (S) 5
Trelles (ROU) 4
Pozzo (RA) 3
Jonsson (S) 3
FIA Teams Cup:
Toyota Castrol Team DK 10
David Sutton Cars Ltd 6
Malboro Ford Mobile 1 - Team Poland 4
Toyota Team Saudi Arabia 3
F.Dor Rally Team 2
World Rally Hire 1
FIA Super 1600 Championship for Drivers (this event did not count): no results
SS17 Makinen, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo Rolled
SS15 Auriol, Peugeot 206 WRC Transmission
SS8 Schwarz, Skoda Octavia WRC Off Road
SS7 A.McRae, Hyundai Accent WRC Engine
SS6 Laukkanen, Toyota Corolla WRC Off Road
SS5 H.Solberg, Toyota Corolla WRC Off Road
SS3 Gronholm, Peugeot 206 WRC Cyclinder Head failure
SS13 - Burns, SS14 - Burns, SS15 - Burns, SS16 - Burns, SS17 - Burns
SS 17: Hagfors 21,21km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:26,8
2 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 12:40,2
3 Gardemeister Peugeot 206 WRC 12:43,2
4 Carlsson Toyota Corolla WRC 12:47,6
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 12:55,3
SS 16: Rämmen 2 23,41km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:16,2
2 Martin Subaru Impreza WRC 12:26,4
3 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 12:28,3
4 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 12:28,9
5 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 12:30,0
SS 15: Sågen 2 14,99km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 7:54,6
2 Martin Subaru Impreza WRC 7:58,7
3 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 7:59,8
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 8:03,8
5 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 8:04,2
SS 14: Rämmen 1 23,41km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 12:11,8
2 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 12:19,7
3 Martin Subaru Impreza WRC 12:20,4
4 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 12:20,9
5 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 12:21,4
SS 13: Sågen 1 14,99km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 7:55,4
2 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 7:56,5
3 Martin Subaru Impreza WRC 7:57,4
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 7:59,9
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8:01,6
End of Leg 2
Saturday 10th February
Four drivers have fought for the lead during the today's second leg of the International Swedish Rally, second round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Carlos Sainz, Harri Rovanperä, Thomas Rådström and Tommi Mäkinen have rarely been separated by more than 30 seconds, but Rovanperä fought through during the early afternoon to grab a small advantage at the top of the timesheets. Conditions were virtually perfect for the drivers, thanks to clear blue skies and high snow banks.
Technical: The remaining two factory 206 WRCs, driven by Harri Rovanperä and Didier Auriol, have performed without serious problem today. Auriol's only concern was a puncture in SS11, but Michelin's ATS mousse system was enough to prevent serious time loss for the 1994 World champion.
Sporting: Rovanperä started the day in second overall and during the opening two stages, he clawed back enough time from leader Carlos Sainz to move to within three tenths of a second of the top position. He claimed it for himself in SS9 and increased his lead further in SS10. Auriol, meanwhile, has continued to struggle with bronchitis and he wasn't able to maintain his overnight fourth position during the morning. He recovered well during the afternoon, though, to move back into a point-scoring place.
Quotes: Harri Rovanperä said: "Everything's gone really well today. I'm still learning more about this car on every stage, although I'm getting closer to my limits with it. But sometimes, I arrive at corners and realise I could have braked 10 metres later. It will still be a close fight tomorrow, because Carlos and Thomas (Rådström) aren't going to give up and Tommi (Mäkinen) is coming up quickly."
Technical: Tommi Mäkinen, Thomas Rådström and Freddy Loix have reported no glitches with their Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions today. Loix in particular has been happier with his car after softening the suspension.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen has been one of today's main chargers, taking advantage of running further down the starting order to overhaul Didier Auriol on today's first stage, and Thomas Rådström and Carlos Sainz on the third. Rådström started the day in third overall and he has found conditions more difficult than yesterday, but the Swede still managed to pass Sainz and move into third, then inch back ahead of his four-times champion team-mate in SS10. Loix continues to run outside the top ten, accruing more mileage on the testing Swedish roads.
Quotes: Tommi Makinen said: "It's been going well today, but the last long stage was run earlier in the day so it wasn't possible to make up so much time. The road is higher in the middle than its outside edges, and when the snow has been ploughed it's left a little loose snow at either side. Running fifth on the road means that it gets swept clear before I get there. It makes a difference, especially on acceleration."
Thomas Radstrom said: "We had one big moment in today's first stage, when the car slid very sideways and went along a snow bank for 100 metres. I lost confidence a bit after that. I'm still pushing but I don't know how much more I can do."
Technical: The three works Focus RS WRC01s of Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae and François Delecour have experienced no major technical problems today. Sainz's example proved reluctant to restart after he stalled at a hairpin in SS9, while Delecour suspected that his differential set-up wasn't perfect for the wider stretch of road near the end of SS10.
Sporting: Carlos Sainz has suffered the same fate that befell Tommi Mäkinen yesterday - running first on the road has forced the Spaniard to sweep clear a layer of fine snow for his rivals. Accordingly, the double world champion lost time for much of the day and dropped to fourth by lunchtime service as a result. François Delecour has been embroiled in a scrap with Didier Auriol for fifth place - and the title of top Frenchman. Colin McRae, meanwhile, might not have a chance of scoring a drivers' point after his accident yesterday, but the Scot was fastest on the first four stages today as he took full advantage of a lack of pressure and cleaner roads.
Quotes: Carlos Sainz said: "I can't do anything. I'm trying my best, but I'm cleaning the road. If you look at Tommi's times yesterday he had the same problem. All I can do is keep pushing, right to the end, and hope that's enough to move me back."
Colin McRae said: "The fast times haven't surprised me so much, because the roads are definitely sweeping clean. We'll keep pushing to the end anyway."
Technical: The Subaru Impreza 44Ss of Richard Burns, Markko Martin and Petter Solberg have performed reliably today, with none of the drivers reporting any major problems. Martin found his suspension too soft for a series of jumps near the end of the day's first stage, though, and had to back off after he clouted the car's sump guard in a heavy landing.
Sporting: Petter Solberg has concentrated on building up further experience and mileage, even slowing himself down after he went 'too quickly' in SS9. The young Norwegian continues to hold a top ten position. Markko Martin has enjoyed gaining experience after suffering frustration in his first two outings for Subaru. Richard Burns started the day with no chance of even a point, but the Briton has experimented with both tyre choice and differential settings, as well as gaining experience of some new stages.
Quotes: Petter Solberg said: "The time in SS9 was maybe a bit too good and I'm determined to finish the event, so I just told myself to ease off a bit and not take so many risks. There's not a scratch on the car, though, which is a positive sign!"
Markko Martin said: "I'm driving at normal speed, just having a look at the stages. The conditions have been nice, it's been great fun. Perhaps we'll push harder tomorrow."
Technical: Alister McRae's Accent WRC was forced onto the retirements list when its engine lapsed onto three cylinders and then expired on the day's opening stage. But Kenneth Eriksson's example stayed troublefree until the day's last proper stage, when it lost three gears.
Sporting: Eriksson has pushed his Accent to the limit as he can no longer rely on a lower position in the running order, and the swept clean roads that go with it. He clouted a snow bank in SS7, bending navigator Staffan Parmander's door, but he still held sixth until gearbox problems intervened in SS11.
Quotes: Alister McRae said: "The car went onto three cylinders, then two and a half, and the oil temperature went up to a seriously high level. It's bitterly disappointing because I was really encouraged by our speed yesterday."
Kenneth Eriksson said: "I'm taking risks to stay in touch but it's not been easy today. The gearbox problem was really hard luck, because I think we could have taken some points."
Technical: Bruno Thiry became the sole remaining Octavia WRC driver when Armin Schwarz slid off in SS8, but the Belgian became concerned by rising temperatures and dropping power outputs on the car's engine during SS9 and SS10. He's also experimented with differential settings, although he has struggled to find a compromise setting between fast and twisty stages.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz's Swedish Rally ended 9km into SS8, when the German slid into a snow bank which subsequently gave way and dragged his Octavia into a ditch. He and Manfred Hiemer couldn't find enough spectators to help them back onto the road, and they retired on the spot. Bruno Thiry continues to hold a position just outside the top ten, although he has been put under increasing pressure by Colin McRae.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: "We decided to push hard, but lost out. We broke a wheel on a rock as we slid into the ditch but if we'd got back onto the road, I think we could have continued. It's disappointing."
Toni Gardemeister is the top privateer in eight, after his Grifone team managed to cure a mysterious engine problem this morning. He's comfortably clear of Daniel Carlsson's Corolla, although the young Swede still holds a top ten placing on only his second outing in a World Rally Car.
In the FIA Teams Cup section, Pasi Hagstrom continues to occupy the leading position in his Toyota Corolla. European champion Henrik Lundgaard is becoming much happier with ice driving on his first winter rally.
Stig-Olov Walfridsson continues to lead the Group N category for more standard cars, and his task was made much easier when main rival Kenneth Backlund slid off for more than a minute earlier this morning.
Michelin's teams all opted for the French firm's GE asymmetric tyre, designed to cope with thick ice, while Pirelli's teams used the J asymmetric tyre for ice and gravel. Colin McRae, however, switched to the Pirelli's W tyre (slightly more open pattern) for the last two stages, in the belief that more gravel would start to poke through the snow and ice.
END OF LEG 2 RESULTS
1 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 2:33:09.9
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:33:17.2
3 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 2:33:22.3
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 2:33:38.4
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 2:34:31.9
6 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 2:34:38.5
7 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 2:34:44.0
8 Gardemeister Peugeot 206 WRC 2:35:10.6
9 Carlsson Toyota Corolla WRC 2:36:06.4
10 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 2:36:24.1
1 Walfridsson Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:41:32.7
2 Backlund Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:40:53.0
3 Blomqvist Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:43:49.6
1 Lungaard Toyota Corolla WRC 2:39:25.8
2 Al-Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 2:42:07.6
3 Blomqvist Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:43:55.4
SS8 Schwarz, Skoda Octavia WRC Off Road
SS7 A.McRae, Hyundai Accent WRC Engine
SS6 Laukkanen, Toyota Corolla WRC Off Road
SS5 H.Solberg, Toyota Corolla WRC Off Road
SS3 Gronholm, Peugeot 206 WRC Cyclinder Head failure
SS7 - McRae, SS8 - McRae, SS9 - McRae, SS10 - McRae, SS11 - Makinen, SS12 - Rovanpera
SS 12: Lugnet 2,00km
1 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 2:00.0
2 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 2:00,6
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 2:00,8
4 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:01.5
5 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 2:01.9
5 Gardemeister Peugeot 206 WRC 2:01.9
SS 11: Nyhammar 2 27,79km
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 14:50,2
2 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 14:54,6
3 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 14:56,5
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 14:57,4
5 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 14:59,3
SS 10: Silkesberg 15,33km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 7:52,6
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 7:55,1
3 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 7:58,8
4 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 7:59,3
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8:01,4
SS 9: Fredriksberg 34,53km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 19:21.7
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 19:34,6
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 19:35,4
4 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 19:37,5
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 19:39,4
SS 8: Nyhammar 1 27,79km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 14:43,4
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 14:43,7
3 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 14:44,7
4 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 14:49,3
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 14:49,6
SS 7: Kullen 26,61km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 14:08,9
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 14:16,2
3 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 14:20,7
4 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 14:23,5
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 14:25,0
Friday 9th February
Drivers were treated to near-perfect winter rally conditions on the opening day's action of the International Swedish Rally, second round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Snowfalls yesterday created high banks along the side of the stages, allowing the sport's top stars to use every inch of the road - and more besides - as they fought for seconds.
Technical:The three works Focus RS WRC01s of Carlos Sainz, Colin McRae and François Delecour have experienced no major technical problems today. A wrong tyre choice cost Delecour time in SS4, while Sainz suffered a major vibration in the front of his car in the same test. He attributed the problem to a broken mousse insert in a tyre.
Sporting: Colin McRae featured near the head of the leaderboard after two stages, but he slid into a snow bank in SS3 and dropped out of contention for victory. But Sainz has featured in the top three for much of today's action. Delecour survived a scare in SS1 when he came across a rock in the middle of the road, and he held a top ten position.
Quotes: Carlos Sainz: "It's a close fight. We've seen today that it's very easy to make a mistake at any time, so we can't take anything for granted. At the moment, I'd say that Thomas (Radstrom), Tommi (Makinen) and Harri (Rovanpera) are my nearest threats.
Colin McRae: "I came into the corner and tried to lean on the snow bank on the outside. But everyone else had been doing it so the bank was weakened, and I went straight through it. We still have a chance of points, so we can only try."
Technical: Reigning world champion Marcus Gronholm was forced out of the lead - and into retirement - when his 206 WRC's engine expired at the end of stage two. The team has attributed the failure to a cylinder head gasket problem. Didier Auriol's 206 suffered no major problems, but Harri Rovanpera's example completed the opening three stages with brake glitches.
Sporting: Gronholm grabbed the lead on the first stage, only to have to retire when his engine's temperature went off the scale in SS2. Auriol, meanwhile, is feeling slightly better after he spent much of yesterday in bed with bronchitis. He did enough to force his way into the top six after the day's longest stage. Harri Rovanpera's first run in a 206 WRC started well and he led after SS2. He swapped times with the leaders to hold the final podium place after SS4.
Quotes: Marcus Gronholm: "It looked like the same problem we had in Monte Carlo but the team say it isn't. It's not a good start to the season for us - two starts and no points - and I'm sure we could have scored a good result here."
Didier Auriol: "Sometimes my reactions are slow so I'm not pushing at maximum. But the times aren't bad so perhaps we can get some points." Harri Rovanpera: "I'm not taking any risks, not doing anything stupid. The car feels fantastic and I'm learning more about it all the time."
Technical: Four-times world champion Tommi Makinen has encountered few mechanical problems apart from overheating tyres in the day's longest stage, the 49km of SS4. But team-mate Freddy Loix notched up road penalties in service after SS3, when the Mitsubishi mechanics had to fix a broken turbo. The third Lancer, driven by Swede Thomas Radstrom, has run without major problems.
Sporting: Makinen's progress has been hampered by his position of first car on the road. He encountered a layer of fine, powdery snow in SS1 and SS3, and spectators in the road in the latter test as well. He was therefore satisfied to hold a top-four position Freddy Loix has struggled to build his confidence thanks to a major spin in SS1, and he slid off the road for three minutes in SS4. Radstrom has featured strongly throughout today's stages, and despite thinking he had a puncture after a heavy landing in SS4, he held a narrow lead.
Quotes: Tommi Makinen said: "The spectators just couldn't hear us because of the high snow banks. I had to brake quite hard." Thomas Radstrom said: "I could probably push a bit harder in places but you have to approach corners differently with this car than I'm used to. I'm learning all the time, and I think I can go quicker still tomorrow."
Technical: Kenneth Eriksson's Accent WRC has run without problems, but Alister McRae's example suffered a cracked turbo pipe in the long test, losing boost and dropping more than a minute and a half to the Scot's team-mate.
Sporting: Eriksson is determined to score a good result on home soil and the Swede has held a top-ten placing throughout the opening day, despite being held up by Colin McRae's snow dust after the Ford driver rejoined the route after an accident. A fifth-fastest time in the longest test, SS4, was enough to lift Eriksson into sixth. Alister McRae was equally keen to stay close to Eriksson's pace and he did so, until turbo pipe problems cost him valuable time in SS4.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson: "The car's been working really well and perhaps it's better to run a bit further back, but when people hit the snow banks they knock fresh snow into our path as well. It's good to be able to fight for points placings."
Technical: The Subaru Impreza 44Ss of Richard Burns, Markko Martin and Petter Solberg have been well-behaved mechanically, although the team's two young guns - Martin and Solberg - both suffered tyre problems in SS4. Martin punctured his right-rear tyre and damaged the car's brakes and bodywork, while Solberg had to cope with a vibration after a mousse insert exploded. Martin's car also stuck in sixth gear during the fourth stage.
Sporting: Richard Burns's hopes of even a point from this event disappeared in SS2, when the Englishman slid his Impreza onto the top of a snowbank and lost more than 12 minutes. Markko Martin held a promising fourth place until he suffered a puncture in SS4, while Petter Solberg adopted a steady approach to hold a top ten placing.
Quotes: Richard Burns: "I braked too late at the end of a sixth gear section and I knew the car wouldn't make it round the corner. I got turned in, but then it went straight through the snow bank on the outside. We'll continue - I can play with the car a bit, and there are some new stages to see."
Markko Martin said: "The puncture was disappointing because our times had been good up to that point. I'm just glad to get some kilometres after such short rallies before now! I still don't quite trust the car - I need more experience for that.
Technical: Armin Schwarz struggled in the first three stages with a lack of hydraulic pressure in his Octavia WRC's differentials, and then the car's suspension softened towards the end of SS4. Bruno Thiry had fewer problems, and the Belgian gained more confidence with the car after he resorted to differential settings he last used on the Rally GB in 1999.
Sporting: Both Skoda drivers have been pleased by the Octavia's performance on its first visit to the International Swedish Rally. Schwarz was determined to gain experience but he still held 13th overall after the 49km SS4, Granberget. Thiry, meanwhile, enthused about the car's handling on fast, open sections and he lay just outside the top ten.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz: "We need to learn here, so it's important not to make a silly mistake and slide off the road. It was difficult more encouraging. I think we can improve in the first three stages, but the performance in the long test was performance as the rally progresses."
The strongest performance from a non-factory crew has been Swedish national driver Daniel Carlsson, who pushed his Toyota Corolla into the top ten. But in the FIA Teams Cup section, Pasi Hagstrom's Corolla set the pace, comfortably clear of reigning European champion Henrik Lundgaard.
Locals dominated the Group N section for more standard machinery, with Stig-Olov Walfridsson leading the category from Kenneth Backlund.
Michelin's teams all opted for the French firm's asymmetric tyre to cope with the thin layer of powdery snow, while Pirelli's teams switched between an ice tyre and a snow tyre. François Delecour in particular perceived the latter option as less effective on the day's longest stage.
END OF LEG 1 RESULTS
1 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 1:19:08,7
2 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 1:19:21,9
3 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 1:19:28,0
4 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 1:19:41,0
5 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:19:44,3
6 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 1:19:50,3
7 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 1:19:58,6
8 Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC 1:20:20,0
9 Gardemeister Peugeot 206 WRC 1:20:26,8
10 Carlsson Toyota Corolla WRC 1:20:55,8
1 Walfridsson Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:23:31,3
2 Backlund Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:23:37,9
3 Blomqvist Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 1:25:54,8
1 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla WRC 1:21:31.6
2 Lungaard Toyota Corolla WRC 1:23:43.7
3 Al-Wahaibi Subaru Impreza WRC 1:25:17.2
SS3 Gronholm, Peugeot 206 WRC Cyclinder Head failure
SS5 H.Solberg, Toyota Corolla WRC Off Road
SS6 Laukkanen, Toyota Corolla WRC Off Road
SS1 - Gronholm, SS2 - Rovanpera, SS3 - Burns, SS4 - McRae, SS5 - McRae, SS6 - McRae
SS6 Sågfallet 26,48km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 13:22,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 13:24,7
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 13:30,8
4 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 13:35,6
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 13:39,1
SS5 Torntorp 20,38km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 10:30,0
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 10:36,2
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 10:39,7
4 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 10:40,5
4 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 10:40,5
SS4 Granberget 49,36km
1 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 24:55,6
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 25:05,5
3 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 25:15,0
4 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 25:19,0
5 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 25:20,0
SS3 Bogen 12,78km
1 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 7:31,7
2 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 7:35,2
3 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 7:37,2
4 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 7:37,6
5 Martin Subaru Impreza WRC 7:38,5
SS2 Lönnhöjden 18,82km
1 Rovanpera Peugeot 206 WRC 10:41,5
2 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 10:44,7
2 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10:44,7
4 Carlsson Toyota Corolla WRC 10:47,3
5 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 10:47,4
SS1 Bjälverud 20,74km
1 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 11:05,3
2 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 11:09,2
3 McRae Ford Focus RS WRC 11:09,9
4 Radstrom Mitsubishi Carisma GT 11:10,9
5 Martin Subaru Impreza WRC 11:11,1
After the asphalt of Monte Carlo, the stars of the FIA World Rally Championship switch to snowy, icy forest tracks for the second round of the series, the International Swedish Rally, which starts in Karlstad this evening. The event remains the last stronghold of Scandinavians, since no non-Nordic driver has ever won here, and with four-time World Champion Tommi Makinen on a high after his victory on Rallye Monte Carlo, rivals like Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz and Richard Burns face a tough fight to break the tradition. Unlike recent years, the roads to the north of Karlstad have seen extremely low temperatures in the days leading up to the start, and competitors will face icy tracks and relatively high snow banks when the action starts in earnest tomorrow morning
MITSUBISHI (1st - 13 points)
Technical: The mechanical specification of the Lancer Evolution has changed little since the opening round of the World Rally Championship, the Rallye Monte Carlo last month. But Sweden is the first occasion that the heavily-revised rear suspension has been used on 'loose' surfaces. The design was tested extensively in Lapland before Christmas. Sporting: Local driver Thomas Radstrom will drive a third Lancer, and he will be nominated for manufacturers' points alongside Tommi Makinen. Freddy Loix, the team's regular second pilot, will thus be competing for drivers' points only. This is the first time that Mitsubishi has entered three official factory cars in a round of the World Rally Championship.
Quotes: Four-times FIA World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen said: „I hope that it doesn't snow because I'll be running first on the road and I'd prefer harder conditions so I don't sweep the road for everyone else. The conditions this year, with high snow banks, make it a bit safer but it's also more difficult for the drivers because there are a number of very tricky corners that can catch you out.
FORD (2nd - 6 points)
Technical: The Focus is largely unchanged in specification but Ford has worked hard to cure the problems with its 'fly-by-wire' throttle that blighted efforts in Monte Carlo. Revised backup systems for the unit have been introduced.
Sporting: The team uses the same driver line-up that appeared in Monte Carlo, with Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz nominated for manufacturers' points and François Delecour fighting for drivers' points only.
Quotes: Colin McRae said: „I don't think we have to do anything different to beat the Scandinavians here. If you look at previous years, you couldn't actually say we did anything wrong. They just seem to win through in the end. But my preparations here have gone well and I'm pretty confident. This is one of my favourite rallies and I'm certainly going to give it my best shot.
SKODA (3rd - 5 points)
Technical: There are few modifications to the Octavia WRC, but Skoda has been working hard on engine airflow to ensure that the motor works at more consistent temperatures.
Sporting: Armin Schwarz and Bruno Thiry will both drive Octavia WRCs on the car's first ever appearance in Sweden. Schwarz has had to make completely new pacenotes and Manfred Hiemer, has never competed on this event before.
Quotes: Armin Schwarz said: „This is only my third time on this event but I hope we can repeat the form we showed in Monte Carlo (fourth overall). It was a great start to the season for the whole team. But it won't be easy, because this is the first time the Octavia has been on ice and snow and I don't know the roads so well. If you think that the conditions are completely white, then you can imagine how hard it is to recall individual corners.
HYUNDAI (4th - 2 points)
Technical: Hyundai's engineers have been working on revised electronic mapping for the Accent's engine and transmission. Throttle response has been improved, while Sweden marks the first loose-surface event where the cars will be fitted with electronically-controlled front differentials. This will be the last appearance for the Accent in its current guise: Hyundai confirmed yesterday evening that an Evolution model will make its debut in Portugal next month, featuring a revised front end and improvements to both its engine and transmission.
Sporting: Local driver Kenneth Eriksson, a former winner of the Swedish Rally, returns to the team after he missed Monte Carlo in deference to Piero Liatti. Alister McRae drives the second Accent as usual. The Swedish also sees customer Accent WRCs for the first time: Norwegian brothers Thomas and Kristian Kolberg will use one apiece.
Quotes: Kenneth Eriksson said: „Some non-Scandinavians have come close to winning here in the past, and I'm sure one of them will win eventually. My intention here is to finish in the top three but I know it'll be difficult.
PEUGEOT ( 0 points)
Technical: All three works 206 WRCs will use three computer-controlled 'active' differentials. In the past, the French manufacturer's drivers have often opted for mechanical front and rear differentials but the team has opted for the more sophisticated set-up in an attempt to maximise traction.
Sporting: Reigning FIA World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm is nominated for manufacturers' points after he was 'rested' from that task in Monte Carlo. His team-mate Didier Auriol spent much of today in bed, attempting to make as much of a recovery from bronchitis as he can before the action proper starts tomorrow. Sweden marks the first of Harri Rovanpera's six scheduled outings in a 206 WRC this season. The former SEAT driver landed the deal after he put in a couple of strong showings in a privately-run Toyota Corolla last year,
Quotes: Team Principal Corrado Provera said: „Harri is just here to prevent other drivers from scoring points against Marcus and Didier. Didier is not well at all and we hope he makes a good enough recovery, but at least Marcus and Harri were very happy with their cars at shakedown yesterday.
Harri Rovanpera said: „I feel like a small child waiting for Santa Claus! I've driven the 206 WRC for two days in testing, and at the shakedown, and it's easily the best car I've ever driven. I can't wait for the start.
SUBARU ( 0 points)
Technical: Subaru has tested extensively for this event, racking up more than 2000 kilometres beforehand. Petter Solberg alone notched up more than 500km in a single day. The ignition coil problems that sidelined Markko Martin and Richard Burns in Monte Carlo were due to a production fault, and the design of the item itself has not been altered.
Sporting: Richard Burns's co-driver Robert Reid will be competing in discomfort this weekend, thanks to a cracked sternum sustained in their recce accident in Monte Carlo. The Scot missed a pre-event test to aid his recovery. In contrast to Monte Carlo, Subaru has nominated Petter Solberg to score manufacturers' points instead of Markko Martin.
Quotes: Richard Burns said: „I'm looking forward to the start. We've done some good work with Pirelli and the car's felt good in testing. What happened in Monte Carlo wasn't the ideal start to the year but I feel pretty relaxed now. I'm optimistic we can score a good result.
Team Principal David Lapworth said: „I think we've made some interesting developments with Pirelli since last year's event. Most of our testing was in icy, cold conditions so we'd prefer them to return, but we're pretty confident we've made a big step forward.
CITROEN (0 points)
The French manufacturer is not present in Sweden as it continues its preparations for the Xsara T4's debut, in Catalunya next month. It recently conducted a successful test session in Kenya, even though the Xsara is not scheduled to tackle the Safari this season.
The Swedish Rally is the opening round of the FIA Teams Cup for privateer drivers, and a dozen crews will start. Among the favourites for success in Sweden will be Pole Janusz Kulig (Ford Focus WRC), Oman driver Hamed Al Wahaibi (Subaru Impreza WRC2000) and Finn Pasi Hagstrom (Toyota Corolla WRC). European Champion Henrik Lundgaard (Toyota Corolla WRC) is another starter, although his limited experience of snowy conditions might prevent him from challenging for maximum Teams Cup points on this occasion.
Other private entries likely to feature strongly include former British Champion Tapio Laukkanen (Toyota Corolla WRC) and ex-SEAT driver Toni Gardemeister, who drives the same 206 WRC that he took to fifth overall in Monte Carlo.
In Group N, reigning category World Champion Manfred Stohl will face stiff opposition from local stars Kenneth Backlund, Stig-Olov Walfridsson and Mats Jonsson.
Last night, event stewards excluded three drivers - Olivier Marty, Gianluigi Galli and Alfredo de Dominicis - for conducting reconnaissance outside of the permitted schedule.
Leg 1, Friday 9th February (148.56km)
SS 1 09.01 Bjälverud 20.74km
SS 2 09.27 Lönnhöjden 18.82km
SS 3 10.21 Bogen 12.78km
SS 4 13.00 Granberget 49.36km
SS 5 15.31 Torntorp 20.38km
SS 6 16.15 Sågfallet 26.48km
Leg 2, Saturday 10th February (118.72km)
SS 7 09.58 Kullen 26.61km
SS 8 10.39 Nyhammar 1 27.79km
SS 9 13.20 Fredriksberg 34.53km
SS 10 14.11 Silkesberg 15.33km
SS 11 15.40 Nyhammar 2 27.79km
SS 12 17.10 Lugnet 2.00km
Leg 3, Sunday 11th February (98.01km)
SS 13 08.41 Sågen 1 14.99km
SS 14 09.33 Rämmen 1 23.41km
SS 15 11.25 Sågen 2 14.99km
SS 16 12.17 Rämmen 2 23.41km
SS 17 14.00 Hagfors 21.21km
ENTRY LIST (Top 30)
1 Grönholm/Rautiainen (FIN) Peugeot 206 WRC A8
2 Auriol/Giraudet (F) Peugeot 206 WRC A8
3 Sainz/Moya (E) Ford Focus RS WRC A8
4 C.Mcrae/Grist (GB) Ford Focus RS WRC A8
5 Burns/Reid (GB) Subaru Impreza WRC A8
6 Solberg/Mills (N/GB) Subaru Impreza WRC A8
7 Mäkinen/Mannisenmäki (FIN) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo A8
8 Loix/Smeets (B) Mitsubishi Carisma GT A8
9 Eriksson/Parmander (S) Hyundai Accent WRC A8
10 Mcrae/Senior (GB) Hyundai Accent WRC A8
11 Schwarz/Hiemer (D) Skoda Octavia WRC A8
12 Thiry/Prevot (B) Skoda Octavia WRC A8
16 Rovanperä/Pietilainen (FIN) Peugeot 206 WRC A8
17 Delecour/Grataloup (F) Ford Focus RS WRC 01 A8
18 Märtin/Park (EE/GB) Subaru Impreza WRC 2001 A8
19 Rådström/Thörner (S) Mitsubishi Carisma GT A8
20 Solberg/Fløene (N) Toyota Corolla WRC A8
21 Laukkanen/Lindström (FIN) Toyota Corolla WRC A8
22 Hagström/Gardemeister (FIN) Toyota Corolla WRC A8
23 Gardemeister/Lukander (FIN) Peugeot 206 WRC A8
24 Tuohino/Vihavainen (FIN) Toyota Corolla WRC A8
25 Paasonen/Kapanen (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC A8
26 Lundgaard/Anker (DK) Toyota Corolla WRC A8
27 Bäcklund/Andersson (S) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N4
28 Walfridsson/Bäckman (S) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N4
29 Jonsson/Johansson (S) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N4
30 Stohl/Müller (A) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI N4