World champions head Rally Sweden Lockdown entry

Top-class rally action returns on Sunday (7 June) when a host of world champion drivers compete at the Rally Sweden Lockdown on roads near Torsby made famous by the country’s FIA World Rally Championship fixture.

An impressive line-up of invited drivers, including FIA World Rally Championship regulars Pontus Tidemand and Oliver Solberg, along with former world rallycross champion Mattias Ekström, contest the one-off event on a short gravel special stage.

The event will be closed to spectators but the made-for-TV rally will be screened in Sweden on SVT1 on Sunday afternoon. 

WRC Promoter will produce a one-hour highlights programme for global broadcast (check local listings) which will also be available on WRC+ on Monday night (CEST).

Tidemand, a double world champion in WRC support series who currently lies third in the WRC 2 standings, will drive a Skoda Fabia. Solberg, who competes in WRC 3, will be at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo.

“It’s so fantastic to be back,” said Solberg. “To actually pull on the overalls, get in the car, shut the door and push the starter button is something I have missed so much.” 

“I have to say a very big congratulations to the organisers of the event. What they have been able to do is amazing. Obviously, we are all sorry not to have some spectators coming, but while we are still having this coronavirus around, we have to be really careful and sensible.”

Ekström and 2018 FIA Junior WRC champion Emil Bergkvist will also drive Fabias, while P-G Andersson, who won the junior title in 2004 and 2007, will compete in a Ford Fiesta. The entry is completed by Jonna Eson Brådhe in a Mitsubishi Mirage.

The rally kicks-off with a shakedown before drivers face two qualifying runs, with their best time counting. The fastest three go directly into the semi-finals with the next two quickest drivers facing a knockout run to decide the remaining qualifier.   

Each semi-final covers two passes of the stage and the driver with the best total time from each duel qualifies for the final. The B final for the losing semi-finalists precedes the A final, both of which follow the same format.

The entire stage will be covered by seven ground-based cameras and onboard cameras in each car, while a drone will provide spectacular images from the sky.

Rally Sweden Lockdown director Glenn Olsson said the sprint nature of the event would provide excitement and close competition.

“Covid-19 has silenced rallying for the last couple of months but now it’s time for the engines to roar again. Some of Sweden’s biggest motorsport names, including four world champions, will compete on roads made famous by our WRC round.”

“The knockout format guarantees drivers must battle for every tenth of a second and even the slightest mistake could prove costly. It promises to be real edge-of-seat watching for fans,” he said.       

The event has a strong support from the municipal of Torsby and the Swedish broadcaster SVT.

”It really feels great to once again offer the rally audience a spectacular rally show after this two month period without any rally. The format, where the drivers meet in quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, makes it a little more risky than in a regular rally. I believe and hope that viewers will appreciate it.”

”For us at SVT, this will be an exciting test. We are doing almost next to wireless production and will bring with us valuable experiences for the future from this event in Torsby,” says SVT:s Executive Producer Ulf Nilsson.

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Sunday June 7
15.45-17.55, SVT1 or 

Monday June 8
Global broadcast, check local listings or WRC+