Lack of snow forces Rally Sweden move up north

The Rally Sweden 2021 had to be cancelled this season due to financial issues as well as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic -replaced by Artic Rally Finland– but its organizers are already planning the return of the Scandinavian round in 2022. 

One of the things promoters of this classic World Rally Championship round have wanted to avoid at all costs is a repeat of what happened in its last edition in 2020, when the llack of snow almost had the rally suspended. 

Aware that this problem is likely to get worse over time, Rally Sweden managers have made a tough but necessary decision: to say goodbye to historic Värmland, their headquarters since 1973. 

A delegation led by Glenn Olsson, Rally Sweden director, thus embarked on a year-long tour covering every corner of the country, to find a suitable location for the new rally: 

“A more snow safe region further north was a basic requirement. Also, one that could provide (optimal) historical meteorological data. Both these aspects were key in our final decision”. – Explained Olsson in this regard-. 

Umea, snow & rallying tradition

The selection process included towns like ÖstersundLuleå, both of which submitted strong applications, but ultimately organisers opted for Umeå as it fulfilled all of the requirements to a higher degree:

Umeå’s strengths, in addition to a stable winter climate, include good hotel capacity in combination with service park location and HQ at the Nolia trade fair area, a vibrant business community and the potential to attract plenty of fans”. – Said Olsson -. 

From a purely competitive point of view, the designated area boasts more than 15 different stages within a 50 km radius from the city centre as well as a long rallying tradition, having featured on several occasions in national championship events. 

Olsson has also emphasised the importance of having managed to keep Rally Sweden in the WRC from 2022 onwards: 

“All officials and other enthusiasts who have put in a lot of effort and commitment over the years should feel proud that we have managed to keep Sweden’s place in the World Championship”. 

Rally Sweden, however, still has to sign the official agreement with championship promoters, which would take effect from next season. But both parties are confident it will be signed shortly.

Värmland, 48 years base of Rally Sweden

This change of venue puts an end to the historical association of Rally Sweeden with Värmland, one of the first rallies to join the WRC in 1973. Olsson has admitted to feeling “great sadness” at having to abandon their event host for so many years. 

 Regrettably, the region has been suffering from unusually warm weather in recent years, which has left roads virtually free of ice and snow for the rally, something unheard of in previous editions. Rally Sweden, the signature winter appointment of the speciality, needed proper winter conditions in order to continue existing. 

“Winter events are one of the WRC’s biggest challenges and Sweden has been a cornerstone winter event since the beginning of the championship,” said WRC Promoter’s events director Simon Larkin.

“We have great hopes for the future commercial and sporting development of this new chapter for Rally Sweden in Umeå, and have nothing but praise for the hard work put in to make this happen. Värmland has been such an amazing host for so many years and we say ‘thanks’ to so many people and supporters.”

FIA, happy with the new base

In other hand, FIA rally director Yves Matton said: “Moving up north was a must, given the challenges we experienced in the last few years. I’d like to praise the efforts of the Rally Sweden organisers for coming up with alternatives and securing this promising new base in Umeå for next year’s event. It is the chance to ensure the proper winter conditions we all dream about for a snow rally.”

 Images of Rally Sweden: WRC.COM.

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