The second World Rally Championship event of the season saw another spectacular event for the championship’s new, faster cars.
Close battles throughout, late drama, and a winner last seen on the top in 1999 were all notable points, though once again there was concern over the speed of the new machines.
World Rally Championship
Round 2: Sweden
The new era of WRC cars rolled into Sweden for the championship’s only pure snow event. Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala took the lead on the opening super special stage on Thursday night, before he and Thierry Neuville – hoping to bounce back after his late disappointment in Monte Carlo – traded the lead over Friday morning.
Neuville came into his own in the afternoon however and began to pull away, while Kris Meeke, Craig Breen, Elfyn Evans and Juho Hanninen behind him fell off the road. Mads Ostberg arguably suffered the scariest incident however on his return having missed Monte Carlo, as the huge new spoiler detached itself from his car while flat out.
While Neuville further edged away on Saturday morning Latvala began to look backwards not forwards, as a trio of stage wins for Ott Tanak put him within striking distance of second place. It was soon announced however that one of the stages run in the morning was cancelled and would not be re-run in the afternoon on the advice of the FIA, after the leading cars exceeded the maximum average stage speed during the first run.
That left one stage fewer for Neuville to navigate as he sought to make amends for his Monte Carlo calamity, but it wasn’t to be. He came unstuck on the short super special stage that endedd Saturday’s running – re-living his Monte nightmare by crashing out on the final stage of the penultimate day. This set up a tight battle for the win over Sunday’s remaining three stages after Latvala lost time while slowing to avoid Meeke’s stricken car on stage fourteen.
Reigning champion Sebastien Ogier – who was just 16.6 seconds from the lead in third – ruled himself out almost immediately with a spin at the start of the day, but Latvala proved to be untouchable. Tanak never got closer than the 3.8 seconds he was behind at the start of the day as a hat-rick of stage wins saw Latvala claim Toyota’s first victory in the championship since 1999 after returning this season.
Over to you
What did you make of the events of rally Sweden, and the decision to cancel stage twelve after excessive speeds? And what other racing action did you watch last weekend? Let us know in the comments.
Next weekend’s racing
The following series are in action next weekend:
- 2016-17 Formula E race 3: Buenos Aires
Weekend Racing Wrap
- WRW: New leaders in F3 and Eurocup, DTM controversy and more
- Weekend Racing Wrap: IndyCar title-decider, Super GT Sugo and more
- Weekend Racing Wrap: Euro F3, DTM, Super Formula and more
- Weekend Racing Wrap: Formula E New York, IndyCar Toronto and more
- Weekend Racing Wrap: IndyCar Iowa, Super Formula Fuji and more
23 comments on “High speeds halt Rally Sweden stages”
13th February 2017, 10:54
Is there anything dumber in this world, than people standing on the outside of the corner in rally events, with no barriers or anything even resembling them?
13th February 2017, 11:29
It was the stupidity of spectators that put WRC in danger of being stopped in the 80’s. Thankfully it didn’t stop, but, it did put an end to the awesome Class B machines.
13th February 2017, 13:42
@maddme it wasn’the spectators in some rallies that put wrc in danger or got group b banned, it was the speed they were doing in those cars.
the drivers were concerned about the speeds they were doing in those cars and it was the deaths of drivers that eventually led to group b been banned and not the spectators. the drivers were been pushed almost beyond what they were capable of and many were completely drained after each stage without another few hours of stages still to go and many of the accidents that occurred over the latter years of group b were put down in part to the cars simply been far too much for the drivers to cope with along with rallies going on far longer than drivers could cope with (hence why stage lengths & overall rally lengths were shortened & organized as we see today).
13th February 2017, 18:17
RogerA, as you say, whilst there had been a number of fatal accidents involving spectators, multiple drivers and co-drivers had also been killed within a quite short period of time (Bettega in 1985, followed by Toivonen, Cresto and Wyder in 1986) or seriously injured (Vatanen coming close to being killed in 1985, whilst Surer had to quit after severe head injuries) in accidents where the performance of the cars and the fatigue of the drivers were contributing factors.
As an aside, it is worth noting that Walter Röhrl stated a while ago that, having tried them out, he believed that the previous generation of rally cars were already quicker than even the most extreme Group B cars, even if they didn’t look like they were (mainly because the driving style required of the newer rally cars required much more precise driving than the more dramatic power slides of the Group B cars). It does make you wonder whether they really did need to increase the performance of the current rally cars by quite as much as they did.
13th February 2017, 22:30
You are indeed correct…
It was spectators that bought about the removal of special stages such as Tatton Park, Weston Park, etc, due to them converging on corners making a fatal accident a very high risk.
John H (@john-h)
13th February 2017, 20:34
Yep, I think the Toivonen crash was the turning point.
13th February 2017, 11:30
I doubt there is. I’ve never been to a rally event, but I know for sure I would be standing somewhere safe if I would be going. Not on the outside of a corner.
13th February 2017, 12:40
I used to Marshall some pro and am rallies in Northern Ireland a few years ago (about twenty years ago)…
It’s easily the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. The rule was, if you’ve told a spectator to move from a dangerous area more than twice, they have no legal leg to stand on, should the worst happen.
These were anxious times, in Northern Ireland. I had an English accent. So, depending on the area the rally was being held, depended on if I’d be shown any respect or not. Quite often, I just wouldn’t get listened to. Not all of the time, mind. Northern Ireland is ace and most of the folk that live there are lovely.
One day, in the Republic of Ireland, just over the boarder, I was at a cross roads with a few other marshals. This cross roads was dangerous! It was in an ever-so-slight right hander at the bottom of a big hill that the cars would proceed down. Spectators started to gather in a field just in front of this cross roads. As the road builders had just laid asphalt straight over the other road to make the junction, there was a huge bump at these cross roads. It was clear, even before a car had run, that this junction was dangerous. The spectators refused to move.
As the stage sweepers begun to check the course, we could see that the bump over the cross roads was unsettling the cars. Even the cars that weren’t setting any times. The spectators saw this too. The whooped and cheered as the out of control cars nearly crashed through their hedge lined field. They still refused to move. We were pleading with them. All we got was a sarcastic two-steps-back.
Some of the cars were your box standard Ford Escort mk1 and mk2 rally cars. At the top of end of the times sheets was older, retired machinery from the WRC. Cars that were a couple of years old. Still very fast!
As the stage wore on, the inevitable happened. One of the leading cars bounced over the hedge and ploughed straight in to the field of spectators. My blood has never run so cold.
How no one was killed, I will never know. But the car was on top of a lady for the longest time as they tried to rescue her. She had a broken leg. As far as I know, that was the only injury. Amazingly lucky, but amazingly stupid.
Later in the day, they ran the stage backwards. A BMW 3 series lost control over this cross road and rolled up the hill, finally crashing in to a small farm house. The driver’s arm had gone through the netting on his window and was sticking out of the car during each roll. I’ve never seen such a broken arm. It was hanging like a piece of string with a weight tied to the end. His car also nearly hit spectators that refused to move.
Spectators can be their own worst enemy.
That was the last rally I ever did…
14th February 2017, 10:17
Blimey! Crazy. Its like the bull running thru the towns in Spain, el loco but el tradition
13th February 2017, 11:10
The first two rallies have been really interesting. Hyundai and Neuville must be kicking themselves after letting two wins slip through their fingers.
13th February 2017, 11:16
I didn’t imagine Toyota to be fighting for wins in the first half of the season having started out from nothing, so a fantastic achievement, and it looks like Latvala can fight for the title this year. I’m sure that not having Ogier in the same car helps him mentally, he was much calmer in these two rallies than anytime during the last few years, it will be interesting to see how he shapes up further down the season.
Neuville losing comfortable wins because of tiny errors twice now is a shame, but if he and his Hyundai remain the strongest combo during the year, it could be looked at as a good thing for the championship.
Overall it seems that we are in for a great season, the cars are really exciting and we have four strong contenders with Ogier, Latvala, Neuville and Tanak. Red Bull TV’s coverage also helps building the championship by giving more free coverage than what we see from WRC, I liked what I’ve seen so far, it would be great if they also broadcasted the Power Stage.
13th February 2017, 13:34
@hunocsi The red bull tv stuff is cool but like the programs on motors tv there still nowhere near as good as the ‘official’ programming thats available on wrc+. the wrc+ programming is far more in depth with a lot more information and all the live stages are streamed there as well as on-car cameras from every stage.
they currently offering 3 months of wrc+ for free via the promotion code ‘WRCSWE17’. https://plus.wrc.com/
13th February 2017, 15:07
Yes I know about WRC+, that’s why I said free coverage (especially as no broadcasters currently show WRC in my country). Thanks for the tip on that code, didn’t know they had a free offer.
(And even though the code would suggest it was only an offer during the Swedish Rally, fortunately it still worked!)
13th February 2017, 16:43
Thanks a lot for that code! Enjoying myself with some onboards. Cars are crazy fast! You get scared by watching the video alone.
For those who don’t know how to use it, go to the website and follow the steps to start a monthly membership, then when it asks you for a code, enter that, it’ll switch to 3 months free. Watch out for auto-renewal! The service is awesome but maybe not everybody can afford it.
13th February 2017, 20:12
Thanks for that code Roger, absolute legend! Been meaning to sign up for that service for a while.
Now, if I only I could find such a code for the MotoGP and WEC I would be a happy boy indeed.
13th February 2017, 11:58
I’m hungry for my mix of 2017 motorsport .Rally Sweden came across as a spectacular event on TV.I don’t know how they work out that the average speed was to high for one of the stages.The whole weekend looked frighteningly quick with the cars delivering a great spectacle.At the same time the quality of driving was tremendous/is there such a thing as pay drivers in world rallying.
The telecast was first rate with the sense of speed really coming across on TV with informed commentary. Four stars.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
13th February 2017, 12:39
As a driver, you know you’re doing something right when you are driving so fast that this is declared the reason for a cancellation.
As an organiser and regulator, you know you’re doing something wrong when you have to admit that people driving fast is why you have had to stop your race.
(Spectators standing in silly places may not have been cited, but can’t possibly have helped; I sincerely hope they learn from this but past experience makes me doubt they will).
13th February 2017, 14:47
This was a really exciting rally. The season has been good so far. Neuville must be kicking himself as he’s made mistakes in both rallies. It looks like it could be a very competitive year with a number of cars and drivers in the hunt. Saw it live on BT yesterday. Really impressive coverage. Beats highlights but I’ll watch them too
13th February 2017, 15:39
Positive: Rally Sweden was entertaining and to see a Toyota win in just the second event of the comeback was amazing! Especially with that Power stage win by Latvala with everything on the line he just drove flat out and went for it. I couldn’t believe my eyes! But it’s the only correct approach IMO. Just drive as fast as you can. Cases like Senna at Monaco 88 aptly proved what happens when you put your foot off the gas
Negative: The stage cancellation was idiotic. You change the rules to make the cars faster and spectacular, and to recreate the Group B feel. And then you cancel a stage because cars are too fast? That’s like putting Tabasco in your dish to make it hotter, and then not eating it saying it’s too spicy. Pathetic
John H (@john-h)
13th February 2017, 20:39
It takes balls to cancel a stage. It’s not pathetic at all.
13th February 2017, 21:09
@john-h This is a cliche that has no real meaning. We’ve heard it all before in December when Rosberg ran away from another contest against a better driver than him because even a lucky win against Hamilton took the last of his strength away.
If you’re afraid of speeds, you shouldn’t have signed off the current super-fast formula, no? And by that, by the way, you’d have signed the WRC’s death warrant as it was becoming absolutely irrelevant and boring. To make cars faster with an objective of adding excitement, but then cancelling stages, because the cars are fast, makes no sense. Either you do it or don’t, make up your mind will you?
13th February 2017, 23:30
I’m quite drawn to WRC again, since the rule changes have made the cars far more attractive and faster, and more manufacturers seem to be involved than has been the norm since the early 00s (roughly?). However, despite once being a regular viewer of the series, it disappeared from various channels in the UK in the midst of Loeb’s domination (again, working from memory here), and I couldn’t tell you what channel comprehensive round reviews are on now–if they are even broadcast at all.
14th February 2017, 10:21
It was on 5 last night. really good coverage and the cars are faster enough now that you don’t sit there waiting for them to put the hammer down as they dribble slowly thru a hairpin. If they can hold their nerve and hold back the spectators it could be a renaissance for the sport of late 1980s proportions. Group B-adass
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