The second round of the WRC championship kicked of today in Sweden. WRC Sweden is the only event that consists of snow only, and therefore Michelin teams and the sole Pirelli car of Hennign Solberg are equipped with tiny spiked tires. Not loosing any of the spikes is going to be key as they provide insane amounts of grip, with cars reaching 200kph on the hilly forest roads. Mikko Hirvonen was one of the drivers who took it slow to save his precious Michelins and later apologised on twitter to his fans.
Citroen driver and former Sweden podium finisher Mads Östberg came out on top with a time of 1:55.8 minutes, 0.4 seconds faster than Latvala and his Polo R. Kris Meeke, who showed a very strong performance in Monaco, put the second Citroen in third. Even a crash that resulted in his car being towed away and quickly fixed by the mechanics couldn't stop him.
The first big surprise was the fourth fastest driver: Henning Solberg, brother of World Champion Petter, came to speeds very quickly after not racing in a WRC car for nearly a year. It also is a great sign for Pirelli as they made a come back to top tier rally. For this year they won't supply any top teams with tires but are aiming for privateers. That might change in 2015 and we would have another competitive tire war.
Hyundai will also be keen to finish this time after Neuville crashed his brand new i20 last time and Sordo's car was stopped by electronic problems. Jahu Hänninen will take his place as scheduled, and the focus will be on having a trouble free event.
At 20pm local time the Rally will start with the first stage of 24. Mind you, there will be no action on Sunday thanks to the Sotchi Olympics. In order to avoid TV conflicts, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are the days the best drivers will tackle the icy Swedish Roads.
Hoccy pointed out that you will be able to watch some stages live:
SS1 Karlstad , SS20 Värmullsåsen 1 and SS24 Värmullsåsen 2 (Power Stage) are shown live. I'll be watching on Swedish TV, but if your local TV doesn't send the WRC you can check out this link for some online streams
01. Östberg, DS3 WRC 1:55,8 Min.
02. Latvala, Polo R WRC 1:56,2
03. Meeke, DS3 WRC 1:56,6
04. H. Solberg, Fiesta WRC 1:57,2
05. Neuville, i20 WRC 1:58,0
06. Breen, Fiesta WRC 1:58,4
07. Hänninen, i20 WRC 1:59,9
08. Kubica, Fiesta WRC 2:01,4
09. Tidemand, Fiesta WRC 2:02,8
10. Ogier, Polo R WRC 2:03,1
11. Tänak, Fiesta WRC 2:03,7
12. Prokop, Fiesta WRC 2:06,4
13. Solowow, Fiesta WRC 2:10,7
14. Al-Qassimi, DS3 WRC 2:11,2
15. Evans, Fiesta WRC 2:13,8
16. Hirvonen, Fiesta WRC 2:23,9
17. Mikkelsen, Polo R WRC 2:24,9
Picture Credit: Rally-Magazin.de.