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Five Things we learned from Rally Sweden

Oliver Solberg on one of the few snowy section at Rally Sweden. Photo: Peter Whitten

Rally Sweden provided a surprise winner, produced an interesting Twitter poll result, was run as a gravel rally and included a distasteful stage name.

Peter Whitten looks at five things we learnt in Sweden …..

1. With a Toyota Yaris under him, Elfyn Evans is the real deal. Finally.

He’d won before at Wales Rally GB on tyres that suited the conditions, and that nobody else was using, but Evans’ second win can never be disputed. He was fast from the outset and, like in Monte Carlo, was more than a match for his team-mates Ogier and Rovanpera.

Can the Welshman maintain the speed and challenge for the WRC title in 2020? Hell yeah! Third and first on two of the most difficult events in the championship proves that.

Now the pressure’s on Seb Ogier to see if he can up his game.

Elfyn Evans has emerged as a real WRC title prospect.

2. An RSM Twitter poll revealed that only 15% of fans believe Ott Tanak’s move to Hyundai was a better one than Evans to Toyota.

A month ago you’d have laughed off such a suggestion, but now we’d have to agree.

Tanak was fast at M-Sport. He was lightning quick at Toyota. The same looks to be true for Evans.

Both have the car under them and the money around them to excel. At the moment it’s advantage Evans.

Will Ott Tanak be questioning his move from Toyota to Hyundai?

3. No snow means no show ….. nearly.

Climate change advocates have been banging on about it for years, and this year’s mild Scandinavian weather proved that without a good dumping of the white stuff, Rally Sweden is just a gravel rally like any other.

The organisers did their best to make the most of what they could, but the WRC Promoter now has a job on their hands to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

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Sweden’s problem is that any location further north (where it is more likely to have snow) doesn’t have the infrastructure required to host a WRC round, and that’s a real concern.

Snow events in Canada and Russia have been mentioned, but Sweden still has a long-term contract in the WRC. Hopefully this year was just a one-off.

Where there was ice, it was hard and firm. But there wasn’t enough of it.

4. WRC teams spoil the show for paying fans

Toyota, Hyundai and M-Sport all had extensive (and expensive) servicing facilities in Sweden. It looked impressive, but the fans were left feeling a little left out.

Because of the expected cold conditions, the service areas were in enclosed to keep the heat in, but that meant fans either had to look through glass or plastic screens, or view from a platform at one end of the service area.

With only one car being serviced at each time in each team, this made it particularly difficult to get a good view. Fans to warmer WRC rounds clearly have much better access.

The works service areas were flash, but provided rally fans with only limited viewing opportunities.

5. The Swedes don’t seem to think it’s strange to have a stage called “Likenas” …

Okay, so it’s a bit of a play on words, but still …..

The Likenas stage was a miserable, muddy affair.

Ford’s Esapekka Lappi slides his way over the muddy Power Stage in Sweden.

Related WRC news:

Postcard from Sweden: thoughts from a snow-less winter rally

Report: 68th Rally Sweden 2020

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media. In 2020 he received a Motorsport Australia 'Media Service Award'.

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