The only tyre available, the Pirelli Sottozero Ice, stood up well to snow, ice and frozen gravel

Testoni: “I admit I was a bit worried given the condition of the roads, but in the end, the studs stood up very well thanks to our exclusive technology”

Rally Sweden, won by Esapekka Lappi in the Hyundai i20 N Rally1, was run in extreme weather conditions, at times even beyond those expected. There were accidents that signalled the end for big names such as Kalle Rovanpera, Ott Tanak, while some of the WRC2 drivers proved their worth, with Oliver Solberg (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) winning the category and finishing fifth overall and Georg Linnamae (Toyota GR Yaris Rally2) fastest on SS5.

For several reasons, the rally was surprising and unusual, with the right management of the only type of tyre available playing an essential role, with the one strategy choice being how many spare tyres to carry on board for each section.

The hardest day of the whole rally, even if it was not the decisive one, was Saturday, as had been predicted from the analysis of the special stages carried out by the Pirelli engineers following the recce. Long stretches of frozen roads put the drivers under pressure and really tested the tyres in difficult driving conditions. Particularly demanding on this front were the two runs through the longest special stage at 28 kilometres, Bygdsiljum (SS11 and SS14). On its second run in the afternoon, the terrain encountered was frozen gravel, despite heavy snowfall on Friday. On the first day, the ice and heavy snow gave rise to potential problems with grip, while on Saturday, the frozen gravel provided a stern test for the studs.

Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli Rally activity manager:  “Finally, we have witnessed a complete Swedish Rally, with plenty of snow on Friday and a lot of ice and frozen gravel on Saturday. Once again, the tyres got the job done, as on every other event in our time as the WRC sole tyre supplier, ensuring reliability, spectacle, and safety, even on road surfaces that turned out to be more challenging than the crews had expected. The Sottozero Ice was a match for every situation and both the Rally1 and Rally2 versions confirmed their worth. The stud retention was impressive, even on stages that were run practically on frozen gravel, which is down to our exclusive technology whereby the studs are vulcanised into the tyre. I admit that I was a bit worried, but it seems I had to no reason to be. Now our attention turns to Kenya, where for the first time the event takes place in March.”

In the first WRC Junior rally of the season, Mille Johansson won, followed home by Romet Jürgenson. The youngsters on the FIA Rally Star programme aimed at supporting talented newcomers and promoted by the FIA in partnership with Pirelli, also got off to an excellent start.

Graphic summary of Rally Sweden here below: