Sweden : Subaru World Rally Team - Preview
The Subaru World Rally Team heads to the snow-bound forest roads of Sweden with the aim of continuing its positive start to the 2007 World Rally Championship.
Following the fourth and sixth-place finishes achieved by Chris
Atkinson/Glenn Macneall and Petter Solberg/Phil Mills respectively on Rallye Monte Carlo last month, the team is focusing its efforts on consistent, reliable performances on the back-to-back events in Sweden and Norway.
Testing duties have kept both Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson busy since Rallye Monte Carlo in mid-January. Earlier this week Atkinson and Solberg participated in a test of the Subaru Impreza WRC2007 on the gravel roads of Sardinia.
They then decamped to Sweden to put the current car through its paces ahead of next weekend's rally. Solberg has also been busy with media appearances in Norway, as his home country gears up to host its first WRC event. One day after finishing a dramatic fourth on Rallye Monte Carlo, Atkinson moved into his new apartment in appropriately enough Monaco!
The Swedish Rally is one of the most unpredictable and extreme events of the season.
Despite the ever-present ice and snow plus temperatures that can fall as low as minus 25 Celsius the drivers will still be in maximum attack mode on the special stages in the forests near Hagfors, a small town in the centre of the Scandinavian country.
The roads are fast and flowing indeed, this is the second-fastest rally on the WRC calendar, behind Rally Finland, and last year the average speed of the winning car was 110.78kph. To be on the pace on ice, the drivers have to be confident enough to drive at high speed in the treacherous conditions. The roads are covered with a layer of soft snow and a base of hard ice, and the two Impreza World Rally Cars will be fitted with studded BFGoodrich tyres. The studs, which are tungsten-tipped, can cut through to the base layer and provide a surprising amount of grip.
Rallying in Sweden is a technical challenge that both Solberg and Atkinson greatly enjoy. The drivers use the tall snow banks that line the edges of the roads as an aid to steer' their cars around corners. They also have to cope with poor visibility, caused by the blanket of snow. Some drivers wear special tinted glasses to reduce glare and help them define the road clearly at high speed.
The route for this year's Swedish Rally is very similar to last year, with most of the special stages taking place to the north-west and east of the main service area in Hagfors. The crews will battle over 20 special stages and a total of 342.09 competitive kilometres.
One change to the route is the introduction of a Super Special Stage situated on the outskirts of Karlstad, the base town for the rally. The rally organisers have created a spectator-friendly 1.9km test around the grounds of the Farjestad horse trotting track. The event begins with the first run around the Super Special at 2000hrs on Thursday 8 February and ends in the same location at 1400hrs on Sunday 11 February.
The event is paired with Rally Norway, on the WRC calendar for the first time. The event takes place the following weekend and is based across the border in Hamar, just 250kms from Karlstad.
Subaru World Rally Team