Elfyn Evans takes the start of the 91st WRC Monte-Carlo Rally. Pic: Getty Images.

Elfyn Evans Reckons Finns Can Only Get Better On Rally Sweden

By Gareth James

Elfyn Evans is hoping a trip to Finland will boost his World Rally Championship hopes when he resumes his title bid on Rally Sweden (February 15-18).

The Dolgellau ace finished third win the season opening event in Monte Carlo last month having led going into Saturday.

Evans has been preparing for the only true winter rally on the WRC calendar – where he took his first win for Toyota in 2020 – in Finland.

“Driving on snow and ice is something unique and makes Rally Sweden a very specific event,” said the 35-year-old.  “In the past I’ve had some good performance there, and we’ve been working to try and improve my feeling with the car from last year’s event.

“Our pre-event running in Finland has been really useful to get some time on snow before Sweden: it’s given us the chance to try a few things and I think we have managed to make some good steps.

“The conditions can vary quite a lot during the rally, with gravel coming through on the second pass of stages, and that’s something key to get right.

“Starting second on the road with fast drivers behind will not be easy but we’ll do our best like always and try to get the most out of the weekend.”

Evans will face team-mate Kalle Rovanpera for the first time this season as the reigning two-time world beater skipped the Monte having decided on a reduced programme this season.

Since 2022, Rally Sweden has been based in Umeå, the largest city in northern Sweden and a short trip across the Gulf of Bothnia from Finland where TGR-WRT is based.

The event’s move north – it now takes place closer to the Arctic Circle than to the capital city Stockholm – has helped to ensure extreme winter conditions and also brought even faster roads.

With special studded tyres that bite into the surface to provide impressive grip, this is one the quickest rallies of the season, with drivers ‘leaning’ their cars on snow banks by the sides of the road to carry more speed through corners.

Third On The Monte Is Solid Says Elfyn….Now For Sweden

As last year, the rally will begin with a short ‘sprint’ stage in Umeå on Thursday evening. This will be repeated at the end of Friday following two loops of three stages: the Brattby and Floda tests are identical to last year, but much of Norrby is new.

Saturday has a similar format with a trio of repeated tests beginning with the all-new Vännäs, followed by the familiar Sarsjöliden, while Bygdsiljum includes some of last year’s Botsmark stage.

A double-length version of the Umeå stage rounds out the day and, as in 2023, will also be run as the rally-ending Power Stage on Sunday when it follows two passes of a revised Västervik test.

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