Torsby, Sweden, February 14. The air of crisis. Crisis of snow. And so, as soon as the curtain fell on the Monte-Carlo which was won by Hyundai and autographed by a magnificent Thierry Neuville, it is addressed with concern to the second round of the World in 2020, the Rally Sweden. “Unreasonable” weather crisis, there is no snow! In Sweden there is no snow, not enough to propose a Rally at the height of the icon included in the calendar of the WRC. The Rally always covered with snow, and, paradoxically, one of the fastest with those four hundred nails sharp for every tire that goes on the hub. Initially, the fear is even that you can send the scene of the 68ma “replica” of what was once the Thousand Lakes. Little snow, very little ice, “full gravel conditions”, earth and everywhere. But not ever, the Rally is in every case, and preparing to a challenge unexpectedly, other than recovering from the original path that we can. Just 170 kilometres, 11 special stages in all, the program is based on repetition, on Saturday, of the evidence of Friday, and the final day with a “general rehearsal” and Power Stage.
All, the Rally part and also the first Special show at the legendary Karlstad is converted into a shakedown encore. Short, but compelling. The perspective is that of a path resized, “streamlined” in function of the changed conditions of the soil, but the elements to turn the “rare” occasion into an event of the highest level are there. Again all on the same floor… on a different plane. Less adrenaline for those shoot men down for the ski slopes, the greater “relevance” with the terms “classic” of the Rally. Earth, mud, stones. New “test” for tires that never seen to work in these specific conditions.
Back Ott Tanak after the dramatic, and, fortunately, only spectacular incident of the Monte-Carlo, and returns to Jari-Matti Latvala on the Yaris WRC, emotion and applause for one of the “masters of the house” the most acclaimed accompanied for the occasion by Juho Hanninen in the quality of the Navigator. At the last minute Craig Breen halls on the third i20, that of the “ballot”. Toyota Gazoo host so a squadron with five Machines, Ogier, Evans, Rovanpera, Katsuta and Latvala, and is said to be already ahead with the Yaris WRC 2021, perhaps to avoid being confused ideas with the inspiration power which the WRC seems inexorably, and “silently”, is intended. Hyundai Motorsport is based their ambitions on the shoulders of the leader of the first time, Thierry Neuville of the Tanak and of the “reserve” Breen. Ford M-Sport is a “firm” belief Lappi-Suninen. Ten WRC 1, or Plus, and you move on to the more than 15 R5 that come out from the sum of those registered in WRC 2 and WRC 3, in this case “led” by the only Citroen “survivor” with Mads Ostberg of a story a little bit creepy and a bit inexplicable. How do you stop it, almost from one day to the other, a project with still so much room for improvement and, probably, and satisfaction? I dunno, the mysteries that maybe are not so impenetrable if you pass by the office, racing to the administrative.
One of the “mysteries” more indecipherable is the one that divides, or rather the sum and overlaps, the ambitions of Toyota, and Hyundai. Both Teams point to the “flat” of the World championship World Rally Car, both the double rider-manufacturer victories. Toyota recovered the Title of the Brand name after having broken the long silence with the Riders of Ott Tanak, Hyundai firmly committed to accompany with the driver’s Title of the new primacy won last year by the Brand under the direction of Andrea Adamo. If you think about the “contradiction” of a communion of intent is inadmissible, you are wasting your time. You should, in fact, to stay focused on the temperature of one of the World’s perspective, the most uncertain and exciting in the last ten years.
Shakedown and… shakedown bis, in short, before making their way to Norway in search of snow for a Special, more “classically”… Swedish. It therefore speaks of the Shakedown 1 of Skalla, more than 7 miles, and the Shakedown 2, the converted special test in Karlstad, not even two thousand meters. In any case, the “proposal” does not change, and the challenge is quite explicit: three Toyota’s in a case… three Yaris in the other. The amazing Kalle Rovanpera, remember that it is a class 2000 puts all the slips on the fourth step of Skalla. Ogier, Evans and all the other frankly all fell in front of the exploits of the enfant prodige Finnish.
Then it is ovation Latvala, fastest on the track standardbreds Karlstad with a relatively comfortable margin over Ogier and Rovanpera.
The impression is, however, that only Toyota has discovered all of his cards.
Let’s see how it goes…
© Images Toyota TGR-DAM, Hyundai Motorsport Media