FIA Junior World Rally Championship starts with the snow of Sweden

FIA Junior World Rally Championship starts with the snow of Sweden

12.02.2018: Rally Sweden hosts the opening round of the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship next week with 13 of the sport’s most exciting young talents all doing battle for the ultimate reward – a rally win and

Rally Sweden hosts the opening round of the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship next week with 13 of the sport’s most exciting young talents all doing battle for the ultimate reward – a rally win and an early lead in the race for one of the biggest prizes in motorsport.



For the first time since 2007, the Junior crews will have to master the art of winter rallying. Freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall has all but guaranteed perfect conditions and all eager to learn – and showcase – the unique skills required for ice and snow.



As one of the fastest events on the calendar, the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R2s will reach incredible speeds as the 364 steel studs on Pirelli’s Sottozero ICE tyres bite through the snow to capture grip on the hard ice below.



Opening their campaigns on home soil are Emil Bergkvist and Dennis Rådström – two young Swedes who know better than most how to tackle the snow-covered speed tests. Having contested the Swedish fixture on three previous occasions, Bergkvist is a past class victor while Rådström has local knowledge on side – hailing from the host town of Torsby.



Yet the pairing could face stiff competition from Ken Torn. Used to competing on the ice and snow of his homeland, Torn is the latest in a long line of Estonians keen to make an impact on the world stage and could well be the dark horse next week.



Speaking of dark horses, Tom Williams has been taking his preparations seriously. Spending the winter break at a rally school in Norway, he also sought advice from former Norwegian Rally Champion Anders Grøndal and contested the country’s Sigdalsrally where he secured a fine second place in class.



With the other competitors having limited experience of winter rallying, strategy may have to come into their game plan but no one can be discounted with the competition expected to be closer than ever.



Having contested Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi will be hoping that the experience holds him in good stead – drawing on the skills learnt from tackling the event’s challenging winter conditions.
 


Fellow Frenchman Theo Chalal will also be hoping that the wintry conditions of the Monegasque event play to his advantage – driving the stages as one of the much-valued Safety Crews last month.



Travelling all the way from New Zealand and Chile, David Holder and Eduardo Fernández will have to tackle the jet-lag as well as the cold, while Ireland’s Callum Devine will be looking to start 2018 in the same fashion as he ended 2017 – when he was crowned British Junior Rally Champion.



Having contested the Junior World Rally Championship last year, Terry Folb and Julius Tannert will be hoping that their experience holds him in good stead. While the two Italian crews, Lucas Bottarelli and Enrico Oldrati, will also be hoping for a strong start – drawing on the knowledge of their two experienced co-drivers.





Junior WRC Manager, Maciej Woda, said:



“We’re starting the season with a big challenge next week. We’ve not seen a snow rally in the FIA Junior World Rally Championship since 2007 and it looks as though the conditions will be fantastic this year.



“Reports from the region suggest a good layer of ice with plenty of snow banks – perfect conditions for our crews to learn the art of winter rallying. And with the Fiesta R2 and the performance and strength of Pirelli’s Sottozero ICE tyres, they’ll have everything they need to master the demanding conditions.



“For sure the Scandinavians will all be pushing for victory. For those with limited experience of winter rallying, strategy will really come into play and they’ll have to focus on securing as many points as possible before the championship turns to their more preferred surfaces.



“We’re expecting the championship to be extremely close-fought this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a surprise or two in Sweden. I’m certainly looking forward to it and to seeing who best masters the challenge.”


 

Anna Louise Rudd- photo M-Sport

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/fia-junior-world-rally-championship-start-sweden-rally---172533.html

12.02.2018 / MaP

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