Change of Guard! The Thrill of Rally Sweden 2024

The one and only snow rally on the WRC calendar, believed to be one of the most challenging rallies in which the focus of every driver is not on conserving the tyres but the snow studs. Yet again rally Sweden throws us another surprise with the big three kept away from podium although Elfyn Evans managed to sneak in from behind to take 2nd place overall just behind Esapekka Lappi who has not had a win in over 6years, placed 1st overall while Adrien Fourmaux managed to get his first ever Podium.

The crew of Esapekka lappi and co-driver Janne Ferm took the rally with an impressive 2:33:04.9 ahead of Elfyn Evans with co-driver Scott Martin with a time difference of 29.6 seconds. Adrien Fourmaux and Alexandre Coria came in third with a total time lost of 2:33:52.8. Due to early challenges with the car’s performance and set up during the stages of Friday and a few on Saturday the crew Thierry NEUVILLE and Martijn WYDAEGHE came in fourth overall with 2:34:51.2 including a 40s penalty due to failed car start on a Saturday morning that led to the bonnet of their i20 N opening during the stage. Oliver SOLBERG and Elliott EDMONDSON in a Skoda Fabia RS a rally2 car came in fifth overall and first in the WRC 2 category.

Indeed, it was a change of guard with the usual suspects losing the podium including the crew of Kalle ROVANPERÄ and Jonne HALTTUNEN, Takamoto KATSUTA and Aaron JOHNSTON came in 39th, 41st, and 45th respectively. As a result of snow truck challenges early on the first stages of Friday for Kalle and Ott and later Takamoto a.k.a the “snow man” hitting a snow bank on Saturday morning. Ott and Kalle finished 1st and 4th in the same rally the previous year though Takamoto rolled during stage 6 and was retired. “We pray for his comeback”

Saturday ended with Lappi leading the rally by 1:06.3 ahead of Fourmaux with Evans toiling him by a time difference of 16.7 second. However, the battle ended when the crews decided not to fight with Lappi choosing to maintain his position and not fight for maximum points and Fourmaux settling for a podium place rather than fighting Evans for 2nd pace and may be lose it all in a new battle.

Sunday’s wolf power stage was the most impressive of all, for the 1st time during the weekend, the Umea Stage was run during day showcasing an impressive view of the beauty of Sweden. Although it seemed like Kalle have given way for Elfyn Evans to win the stage and score maximum points for the team he fell short by 0.1s possibly as a result of hitting the snow bank within the last turn of the stage. Thierry NEUVILLE charged into the red burn area with an impressive Jump of over 40 meters which saw him lose the car’s boot. He finished third with 5:34.0 just 0.1 second behind Evans. It was a great show. Lappi confirmed his grip on the overall win by coming in 7th on the power stage showing that even in rally patience pays.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Entry into the red burn Tent Area at Rally Sweden (Photo Credit: motorsport images)

The battles among rally 1 drivers’ category were not as tough as usually seen on most rally stages. However, the WRC2 category provided us with an impressive adrenaline session. With Solberg tightening his grip on first position while losing his tail bumper in most stages. The battle between Sami Pajari and Georg LINNAMÄE was one to follow with Sami beating Linnamäe to the second position by 2.5 seconds. Both drivers in Toyota GR Yaris rally 2 cars made rally worth watching. We saw rally 2 cars finishing ahead of rally 1 cars, with Solberg, Pajari, Linnamäe, Roope and Mikko finishing ahead of the likes of Lorenzo BERTELLI who finished 10th overall and Grégoire MUNSTER who finished 23rd after going into a snow bank during the Umea Stage on Saturday evening.

All in All, Rally Sweden never disappoints.

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