Rally Sweden’s 200 invisible heroes

200 landowners, a county administrative board and the whole of motorsport Sweden have now given the go-ahead for Rally Sweden in Umeå on 9–12 February 2023. Next year it will happen even earlier. – The dialogue from our side must start much earlier in order for it to work for all parties. It is a lesson we have taken with us and which we must develop further, says Rickard Johansson, safety and permit manager, Rally Sweden.

It required 200 landowner agreements and a notification from the County Administrative Board before Rally Sweden could fully exhale.
But now that everything is in place, it is clear that barely half of the special sections have been replaced with those from last year. Vindeln, Kamsjön, Långed and Kroksjö are replaced. Norrby, Västervik, Botsmark and Floda have been added.
– Before this year’s competition, in dialogue with landowners and stakeholders, we have come to the conclusion that certain stretches are not possible to use. We come in as a large organizer and need to use a lot of land that others than we own, says Rickard Johansson.

Once the first WRC car starts in Umeå, there are months of hard work and countless hours of planning at a detailed level that ultimately binds the whole of Rally Sweden together.
– It is incredible detective work to find out all the landowners. It is about from the largest forest companies to the individual private person who owns a summer cottage. Some own several hundred hectares of land, others have over a hundred square metres. Everyone is affected and everyone is affected by this, he says.

Using and intruding on other people’s land has always been a source of concern, and even major conflict. In the first year of the rally, discussions about the land issue could become quite heated, and the Sámi villages often came in for underserved criticism.

– That’s not fair. We have enjoyed a good collaboration with the Sámi villages ahead of the year’s first race, with a dialogue that favours both parties. It’s important to emphasise that as an organiser, we can’t just come along a few months in advance and start making demands. We’re using their and other people’s land, and we need to start things off much earlier to make sure we find a mutually beneficial solution. We want Rally Sweden to be a natural part of Västerbotten and Västerbotten a natural part of Rally Sweden, says Rickard Johansson.