The rally was last run in 2008 with Jari-Matti Latvala taking the victory. This time over half the stages have changed and Latvala’s mission objectives have changed as well. Mikko Hirvonen was runner up in 2008 as he now begins his title bid in an attempt to capture his first ever WRC championship. This week brought news that Jari-Matti will play a team role and allow Mikko as many points as he can muster. The Finns obviously have no problems in the snow and are clear favorites in the factory Ford.
Citroen look to start yet another double title defense, however Sebastian Loeb and Dani Sordo make no secret that they are not huge fans of the snow events. Loeb has only taken three podiums in Sweden and has one victory to his name. Sordo runs consistent on the snow but may miss out on a podium for this event.
Marcus Gronholm is returning to WRC competition in a Ford Focus. Marcus will be waving the Stobart Ford banner as the satellite Ford team looks to secure valuable points against a good Citroen Junior squad. Marcus raced at Rally Portugal in a Prodrive Subaru Impreza WRC last year. The double champion was running towards the top all event until the second day when he spun into a tree. The Ford is familiar to Marcus and he is shooting for nothing less than a podium finish as he is brilliant in the snow.
The Citroen Junior squad makes up the most interesting duo in the rally. Kimi and Ogier have both participated in snow events prior to the season opener. Ogier has really come on strong over the last part of the year and could be a threat for a podium if others stumble on misfortunes. Kimi Raikkonen will be looking to finish a rally with out having to retire and re-enter. The Finn has already had an accident during the drive to the recce stages! All eyes will be tuned to the Red Bull Citroens.
Don’t forget to check your local listings to find all of the programming related to the Rally Sweden on Discovery’s HD Theatre.