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Although Subaru won the 1997 Swedish Rally, they certainly ddn’t have it all their own way as they did in the preceeding round, the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally.

Two Impreza World Rally Cars were entered that year, one for Kenneth Erikkson/Staffan Parmander, the other for Colin McRae/Nicky Grist, while the winner of the Monte, Pierro Liati, was a non starter.

It was an interesting event in which no car held the lead for more than five stages and in which the fastest driver, Tommi Makinen, lost the lead when he was delayed at a service park, allowing Erikkson to slip into a winning position.

As a result the top five showed it was Subaru, Ford, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota who filled the leading places. Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya flew the Ford flag and missed out on second spot by 16 seconds in their Escort WRCar after a virtually trouble-free run.

Makinen was a further 10 seconds in arrears after a simple gearbox change delayed him in service. At the end of Day One, the Mitsubishi mechanics performed a routine gearbox change but part of the sequential shift mechanism fouled and the mechanics were forced to put the car into overnight parc ferme and change the gearbox yet again the following morning.

Tyre choice was of major concern on the Swedish for while the roads on the first and third day were backed with ice, Day 2 started on a hard base but gradually melted as a result of high temperatures and slight rain.

The difficult conditions mean that studs were being torn from tyres, and tyre choice became even more critical. Makinen lost time on the longest stage of the event on the first day but Subaru fared better with their tyre choice. Colin McRae was doing well, and in a battle with Sainz, but the Scot spun on SS4 costing him any chance of victory.

Once again a  Scandinavian driver won the event and Group N was also won by a Scandinavian- Kenneth Backlund brought his Mitsubishi home to win that category. This year (2007) it will be 21 years since Group N was introduced which must make it the longest-running category in the World Rally Championship.

1. Kenneth Erikkson/Staffan Parmander, Subaru Impreza WRcar, 3.51.49
2. Carlos Sainz/Luis Moya, Ford Escort WRCar, 3.52.05
3. Tommi Makinen/Seppo Harjanne, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo, 3.52.15
4. Colin McRae/Nicky Grist, Subaru Impreza WRCar, 3.52.20
5. Tomas Radstrom/Lars Backman, Toyota Celica GT4, 3.54.47

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