Round 2 of the 2013 season is just around the corner and teams are ready to whip their machines on the snow covered icy roads of Sweden.
Rally Sweden is one of those classic [which is 61st time in running] & probably the most celebrated, mainly due to the weather conditions, high-speed snow laden gravel roads, lined by one of the most enthusiastic spectators and being in the Scandinavian countryside is just too good to enjoy the sideways action.
The rally is going to span for 3 days totaling to 22 special stages with 338.91 km on the odo, the last being the Power Stage, which offers those extra bonus points for the fastest top 3. This rally also has some new's of the spectators getting a chance to get to choose who will go head to head at the super-special stage, which is definitely a good initiative by the organisers and the feds.
Rally HQ is once again based in Karlstad with the service park located 85 kilometres away at Hagfors airport. Action starts from Hagfors on Thursday, with a free practice session between [08:00 hrs-10:00 hrs], quickly followed by the Qualifying Stage at 10:33 hrs. The spectator's decision of head-to-head super-special will start in Karlstad on Thursday night, and the real stage action will begin on Friday with the first of two days in the Swedish countryside around the service park in Hagfors.
Friday and Saturday action is primarily on the traditional special-stages in the host country, including classics like Vargasen [featuring Colin’s Crest] and Lesjofors. While on Friday, its Sagen, Fredriksberg and Rammen on Saturday. For Sunday the event crosses the border into Norway through the day's opening stage Mitandersfors starting in Sweden and finishing at Norway, and the action returns back to Sweden for the Power Stage at Torsby to conclude the rally.
Prediction of Probable Winner is not easy, as there are many equally competent Scandinavians in the entry list. Ford boys have made on the top podium everytime since 2006, but those winning pairs have changed their weapon of choice to other manufacturers and most of them are quite new to what they will be driving this weekend.
Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen are the most established pair with the new team, but we cannot rule out surprises from Jari-Matti Latvala / Miika Antilla since what we saw in Monte. Neither of both the Seb's are any better, but will the younger is there to gain more experience on the loose white-stuff, while Loeb looks like he is still curious boy who want to crack the code on how to win there!
Existing Ford boys are nothing short of winning crews, with what we saw in 2011 of Mads drive, while Juho Hanninen has not had an outing on the Swedish for a long time. Evgeny Novikov, Jari-Ketomaa can be dangerous too!