Registration for Rally Sweden 2023 is now closed. 52 crews from 20 different countries will come to the WC party in Umeå 9-12 February. The reigning world champion and last year's winner Kalle Rovanperä will start as the big favourite.
– It will be a fantastic rally. The conditions are absolutely fantastic where Umeå and the surrounding area are drenched in snow, says race leader Stig-Rune Kjernsli.
In a little less than a month, there will be full focus on northern Sweden when Umeå and its surroundings host the WRC series’ second race of the season.
Race leader Stig-Rune Kjernsli can look forward to a strong starting field for Rally Sweden.
– We have seven more competitors than last year and that is very gratifying. It is also fun that the factory teams bring such strong drivers, he notes.
Now winter conditions await again in Umeå, upgraded with 62 percent new routes compared to last year.
– It will be a fantastic rally. We know from last year’s competition that it will go really fast and with lovely snowbanks that frame the stretches, says Kjernsli.
In the WRC class, a large number of world stars will start. Last year’s winner in Umeå and reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä will also come to Umeå in 2023 and is, of course, the favorite again this year after last year’s performance.
The Finn did not take over the lead in the rally until the second day. Then he dominated the rally and was able to drive home the victory in a controlled manner on Sunday. Rovanperä took home six stages over the weekend and mastered the winter conditions best of all. The margin of victory for Belgian Thierry Neuville was 22 seconds in the end.
The Finn mastered the winter rally with accuracy during his debut year in Umeå and for the entire Toyota team it was a dream race with Rovanperä as the winner and with fellow drivers Esa-Pekka Lappi and Takamoto Katsuta in third and fourth place respectively.
Ahead of this year’s WRC season, the audience will get to know some new WRC drivers and where Toyota will field four cars for the competition. In addition to Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsusa, the Italian Lorenzo Bertelli will man the fourth Toyota car.
Compared to last year, M-sport Ford will start with two crews. The big star and Estonian Ott Tänak has become the poster name since he left the Hyundai team ahead of this year’s WRC season. He will be accompanied by the Frenchman Pierre Loubet who did not drive in Umeå last year.
The Hyundai team, which last year had both Oliver Solberg and Ott Tänak in the stable, has for this year’s season attracted both Craig Breen and Esa-Pekka Lappi to the team, where the latter, as mentioned, showed the class with his third place during last year’s Rally Sweden.
In the WRC 2 class, it will be a real hornet’s nest where, of course, the favorite will rest on the shoulders of Swedish Oliver Solberg in his Skoda Fabia RS. After two years as a WRC driver, he was offered no new contract with the Hyundai team and is now betting on a new class and a new car.
No less than 25 (!) drivers are registered in the class. Notable there is that last year’s winner Andreas Mikkelsen will not start. On the other hand, compatriot Ole-Christian Veiby, who finished second last year after a tough fight against Mikkelsen. Jari Huttunen, who finished third in the WRC 2 class, is also registered for the competition. Both will definitely want to challenge Solberg for the victory.
Notable in the rest of the class is that Finland will start with no less than five different teams and that even winter-unexperienced snow countries such as Saudi Arabia (Rakan Al-Rashed), Bolivia (Bruno Balacia) and Paraguay (Fabrizio Zaldivar) will start in the competition.
Registered for WRC Rally Sweden February 9-12
The entry list is provisional until the FIA approves it.
M-Sport Ford WRT, Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1;
Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja, Estonia,
Pierre Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul, France/Belgium
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG, Toyota GR Yaris Rally 1;
Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston, Japan/Ireland.
Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin, UK.
Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen,
Lorenzo Bertelli/Simone Scattolin, Italy
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT, Hyundai i20 N Rally 1;
Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe, Belgium,
Craig Breen/James Fulton, Ireland
Esa-Pekka Lappi/Janne Ferm, Finland
Toksport WRT: Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen, Finland, Skoda Fabia RS, Sami Pajari/Enni Mälkönen, Skoda Fabia RS.
Toksport WRT2; Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov, Russia, Skoda Fabia RS, Marco Bulacia/Diego Vallejo, Bolivia/Spain, Skoda Fabia RS.
Hyundai Motorsport N: Teemu Sunninen/Markkko Markkula, Finland, Hyundai i20 N, Fabrizio Zaldivar/Marcelo der Ohannesian, Paraguay/Italy, Hyundai i20 N.
M-Sport Ford World Rally Team: Robert Virves/Hugo Magalhaes, Estonia/Puerto Rico, Ford Fiesta MK II.
Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson, Sverige/Storbritanien, Skoda Fabia RS, Ole Christian Veiby/Stig Rune Skjärmoen, Norge, Volkswagen Polo GTI, Jari Huttunen/Antti Linnaketo, Finland, Skoda Fabia, Georg Linnamäe/James Morgan, Estland/Storbritannien, Hyundai i20 N, Egon Kaur/Jaako Viilo, Estland, Skoda Fabia Evo, Lauri Jwoona/Tuukka Shemeikka, Finland, Skoda Fabia, Bruno Bulacia/Axel Coronado, Bolivia/Spanien, Skoda Fabia Evo, Rakan AL-Rashed/Dale Moscatt, Saudiarabien/Österrike, Skoda Fabia RS, Michal Solowow/Maciek Baran, Polen, Wolkswagen Polo GTI, Mauro Miele/Luca Beltrame, Italien, Skoda Fabia Evo, Fabrizio Arengi/Massimiliano Bosi, Italien, Citroen C3, Daniel Alonos/Alejandro Lopez, Spanien, Citroen C3, Jörgen Jonasson/Nicklas Jonasson, Skoda Fabia Evo, Luciano Cobbe/Roberto Mometti, Italien, Skoda Fabia Evo, Joakim Roman/okänd, Sverige, Skoda Fabia, Miguel Zaldivar/José Diaz, Paraguay/Argentina/Hyundai i20 N, Miguel Diaz Aboitiz/Rodolfo del Barrio, Spanien, Skoda Fabia Evo, Alexander VIillanueva/José Murado, Spanien, Skoda Fabia Evo, José Luis Garcia/Daniel Cué, Spanien.
RC 3 (Ford Fiesta Rally 3): Roope Korhonen/Anssi Viinikka, Finland, Toni Herranen/Mikko Lukka, Finland, Jesse Kallio/Jussi Lindberg, Finland, Filip Kohn/Tomáš Streska, Tjeckien.
RC3/JWRC: Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka, Luxemburg/Belgien, William Creighton/Liam Regan, Irland, Diego Dominguez/Rogelio Penate, Paraguay/Spanien, Roberto Blach/Mauro Barreiro, Spanien, Raúl Hernandez/Rodrigo Sanjuan, Spanien, Tom Rensonett/Loïc Dumont, Belgien, Laurent Pellier/Marine Pelamourguez, Frankrike, Eamonn Kelly/Conor Mohan, Irland, Hamza Aanwar/Adnan Din, Kenya.
RC4:Yuki Yamamoto/Miika Teiskonen, Japan/Finland, Renault Clio RS, Nao Otake/Marko Salminen, Renault Clio RS, Hikaru Kogure/Topi Luhtinen, Japan/Finland, Renault Clio RS, Matteo Fontana/Alessandro Arnaboldi, Italien, Peugeot 208,