05 February 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Polar pressure – Volkswagen looks forward to icy Rally Sweden challenge

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

This week sees the Polo R WRC in action once more, as the Volkswagen Motorsport team head to Sweden for the 2013 Rally Sweden – the 60th running of the event from 7-10 February. Following the second place finish for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia at Rallye Monte Carlo in January, Finns Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila will be hoping for event completion this time around, after crashing out on the last day in the snowy mountains of France. The only event this year to be held completely on ice and snow, the 315bhp Polo R WRCs will face gruelling and difficult conditions around Karlstad and Hagfors. The event also crosses the border into Norway for a short time.

In a contrast to Monaco, only winter studded Michelin tyres are available to drivers and crews this time around, making driver bravery the only differentiating factor. Over 338km await the Volkswagen Motorsport team, and with temperatures set to plummet to -10 degrees celsius, the service parks will be a hive of activity – to keep warm if nothing else! Rally Sweden is unique in its two spectator stages – ‘Färjestadstravet’ will be run twice – and starts in Karlstad on Thursday, before moving to the Hagfors region on Friday and Saturday. Sunday sees the teams end the event back in Karlstad. The Rally Sweden route takes the competitors through forests and past frozen lakes at very high speeds.

‘After a good start to the season, the entire team now heads to the next challenge, the Rally Sweden, fully motivated and full of confidence. However, everyone in the team is well aware that the good result achieved in Monte Carlo is not yet a true indication of where we lie compared to the opposition,’ said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito. ‘The Rally Sweden is totally unique. The speed on the ice and snow is very high. This is only possible with extreme studded tyres, which are only used once a year. However, every rally is a test for the team. The processes in Monte Carlo recently were top-class. We want to follow on from this in Sweden and continue developing from rally to rally.’

2013 Volkswagen Polo R WRC

The pressure will be on: Latvala and Anttila won the 2012 event before the pairing signed for Volkswagen Motorsport late last year, and the Rally Sweden is seen as a ‘home’ event for Scandinavian drivers. ‘I really like the Rally Sweden. The event requires a very quick and flowing driving style on Swedish forest roads. I have now driven 500 kilometres on snow in the Polo R WRC. However, we will slot in another test day on snow and the car works very well in these conditions. I am already very happy with the way it feels to drive. I have fond memories of the Rally Sweden, such as my very first WRC victory in 2008 and, of course, my win there last year. My goal for this season is to finish in the top five,’ Latvala said.

Sébastien Ogier echoed his team mate’s sentiments: ‘The season could hardly have started better. Heading to Sweden with 18 points is a nice position to be in. This allows us to relax a little. However, we are now faced with a new rally, and it is hard to predict what awaits us. We will have to wait until after the first special stages. I really like the Rally Sweden. If the snow conditions are good, it is really good fun. The average speed is high, and the grip on studded tyres is fantastic. I love pulling off big drifts with a rally car on ice,’ he said.

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