It’s Friday, the 16th of February 2018 and this is one of my favourite days of the year. It’s the day I travel 400km away from Stockholm in order to see the flat-out action from round two of the 2018 World Rally Championship: Rally Sweden.
This is probably my favourite motorsport in the world and Rally Sweden is one of the more unique rallies out there. It’s the only Rally in the WRC calendar that’s run on snow and ice. The special stages take place in the Swedish forests and they are relatively close to the Service Park located in the town of Torsby.
My plan was to attend Friday’s closing stage, Torsby and two more on Saturday. The famous Vargåsen stage that has the huge Colin’s Crest jump and a classic one that made its way back onto the rally schedule for 2018: Torntorp.
Roadtrip & Friday’s SS 8 Torsby 1
We’ve left Stockholm around 11am and we had a five hour journey ahead of us. And because in Sweden the max speed on the highway is 110km/h, that became boring quite quickly. And because I don’t want to bore you too, here’s a few quick facts you should know about Rally Sweden:
- The first ever Rally Sweden took place in 1950 and initially this was a summer rally.
- The rally is known to be very difficult for non-Nordic drivers. Except for three drivers, Sebastien Loeb, Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, all the winners of Rally Sweden come from Nordic countries.
- Rally Sweden is the only rally in the world, as far as I know at least, that has a special stages that goes through two countries. SS 4/7 RÖJDEN starts from Sweden, then it crosses into Norway and then it finishes all the way back into Sweden again.
- To honour the late and great Colin McRae, rally organisers present an award to the driver who jumps furthest from the huge crest close to the end of the Vargasen stage. The current record is a 45m jump and it was set in 2016 by Norway’s Eyvind Brynildsen, in a Ford Fiesta R5
It’s always a sense of occasion when you can see these modern WRC cars in real life going flat-out right next to you. But seeing them on snow and ice, pulling the same speeds as they do on gravel is something else. And the bravery and insanity of those chaps behind the wheel is just lovely to watch. Have a look at the video below to see just how fast and how sideways these guys enter a relatively sharp right hander. It’s stunning!
Colin’s Crest jump
We then spent the night at a wonderful (and typically) Swedish cabin-by-a-huge-frozen-lake and set-off early in the morning to see some jumps at Colin’s Crest.
But, as per usual, we had a bit of a fail even before we took to the road. And it was my (the idiot’s) fault. There was no place to leave the M2 in the parking lot so my brilliant idea was to park the car right next to the cabin. Big mistake. Because it was quite dark when we got back last night, I didn’t realise how step the hill I went down was and in the morning, well, the M2 couldn’t go up that hill anymore 🙂
And in that moment I started to ask myself what would Clarkson do? And immediately the answer came to me. POWEEEEER. So I backed the car up as much as I could, switched off traction control and floored it. To my surprise it was actually a good idea as the car went up the hill and we were able to continue our road trip.
But the morning delay ment we arrived late at SS 11 Vargåsen 1 and we didn’t find any free spots to properly watch the Colin’s Crest jumps. We eventually ended up right before the jump and that was actually even better because the cars would be flat-out before the jump so they could impress the crowd.
Then after that following the lunch break with allowed us to arrive in time for the next stage SS 12 Torntorp 2. Which I highly recommend as this was the fastest I have ever seen rally cars go on snow & ice. Very impressive. And in the area we watched the cars from there was a multitude of flat-out corners. Seeing the cars literally fly through those corners was mind blowing.
Well I have to say that for the second year in a row I leave Rally Sweden with a huge smile on my face. It’s a unique rally that puts on a fabulous show.
And just before I sign off I have to give huge praise to the WRC2, WRC3 and jWRC guys for their passion and commitment to this sport. Never once have I seen one of these guys lift off at any point. They were flat-out the entire weekend and I have to say that considering the amount of talent I’ve seen in the lower classes, the future of the World Rally Championship is in very good hands!