Rally Sweden 2013


Surpassing all expectations: Volkswagen clinches its first overall win in the WRC.

In just its second appearance in the WRC, Volkswagen secured its first overall win. Factory driver Sébastien Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia engaged in a thrilling duel with the record world champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) on ice and snow, and came through victorious. The two Frenchmen took the lead after two out of a total of 22 special stages, and held on to this lead right to the end – even though things were incredibly close on occasions, as Loeb doggedly battled for every single second he could. In the end, however, Ogier won with an impressive lead of 41.8 seconds. “It was an exciting final on the last day. Sébastien Loeb seemed to fly around the special stages. I really had to push us to the very limit in order to hold on to my lead,” said a delighted Sébastien Ogier at the finishing line.

The icing on the cake for Ogier came in the form of victory on the closing Power Stage, which earned him bonus points towards the World Championship. These points mean Sébastien Ogier now moves to the top of the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Loeb.

Fourth place went to Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila, who picked up two additional World Championship points, courtesy of second place on the Power Stage. “Sébastien and Julien’s win proves just how good the Polo R WRC is,” said Latvala. “The fact that we were not right up there with the front-runners was down solely to me. The Polo R WRC and I are not 100 per cent a unit. I will have to change my driving style a little to achieve that.”

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito was delighted by the victory: „This is a big day for Volkswagen in motorsport. To win the second round of the World Championship under our own steam is a real milestone. The Rally Sweden is one of a kind. The Polo R WRC worked perfectly in these conditions, and Sébastien Ogier took full advantage. He was in a class of his own here. However, Jari-Matti Latvala also performed well. Within the team, all the cogs fit into place perfectly. Today I am just very proud of the guys.”

The Triumph in Sweden. Sébastien Ogier's ride to victory. The video.

Rally Sweden 2013: final results

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:11:41.9    
2 S. Loeb / D. Elena 3:12:23.7 +41.8  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:13:06.4 +1:24.5  
4 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:13:12.5 +1:30.6  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:16:48.3 +5:06.4  
6 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 3:17:25.0 +5:43.1  
7 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 3:23:07.3 +11:25.4  
8 H. Solberg / E. Axelsson 3:23:24.6 +11:42.7  
9 E. Novikov / I. Minor 3:24:46.6 +13:04.7  
10 Y. Al Rajhi / M. Orr 3:28:08.9 +16:27.0  


The rally in detail

Looking for something specific? You will find a detailed rally review here. Experience the coverage of the 2013 Rally Sweden a second time around: every single day and every single special stage.


Click through each day’s picture gallery and watch video clips of each stage. The whole thing is rounded off with all of the pre-event reports and interviews. Happy reading!

Sunday, 10.02.2013



“Beyond my wildest dreams”.
Three questions for the Rally Sweden winner.

Was winning the Rally Sweden as easy as it looked from the outside?
I can assure you of one thing: nothing is easy when you have nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb breathing down your neck. He put us under pressure for three whole days. However, we did not allow him to force us into a mistake.

Did you think you might win prior to the start?
To be honest, no. Sure, I had a good feeling after the winter tests. However, before you are out there in a competitive situation, you never know exactly how you will fair compared to the opposition. We completed another test on the Sunday before the start of the rally. During that test, we carved out an even better chassis set-up. It believe that was instrumental in our win. A victory and second place at the first two rallies of the year, with a new car and a new team: that is beyond my wildest dreams.

What does it mean to you to be only the second non-Nordic driver to win the Rally Sweden since 1950?
That is certainly a bonus on top of this great success. Especially as I beat Sébastien Loeb, who was the first to achieve this feat in 2004.


Maiden victory for Volkswagen:
Sébastien Ogier wins the Rally Sweden

A sensational result. Only the second outing for the Polo R WRC produced the first victory in the World Rally Championship for Volkswagen Motorsport. Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia won the Rally Sweden. The two Frenchmen moved into the lead after two of the 22 special stages, and refused to surrender this position. In hanging on to their lead, they did a wonderful job of fending off the best attempts of world champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën), who was the only other driver who looked capable of matching the pace of the Volkswagen pair. Ogier and Ingrassia came home 41.8 seconds ahead of Loeb. “A perfect weekend,” beamed Ogier at the end of the final special stage. “Sébastien Loeb put us under pressure for three days, but he could not force a mistake from us.”

The icing on the cake for Ogier came in the form of victory on the closing Power Stage, which earned him bonus points towards the World Championship. These points mean Sébastien Ogier now moves to the top of the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Loeb.

Fourth place went to Jari-Matti Latvala and his co-driver Miikka Anttila, who picked up two additional World Championship points, courtesy of second place on the Power Stage. “Sébastien and Julien’s win proves just how good the Polo R WRC is,” said Latvala. “The fact that we were not right up there with the front-runners was down solely to me. The Polo R WRC and I are not 100 per cent a unit. I will have to change my driving style a little to achieve that.” Latvala’s next opportunity comes at the third round of the World Championship, the Rally Mexico, which takes place from 7th to 10th March.

We were screaming with joy in the car.”
Statements from the Volkswagen team.

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8:
That is an indescribable feeling! We were screaming with joy in the car. It is simply incredible to claim the first victory for Volkswagen and the team at only our second rally. This is probably the greatest moment of my career. The Polo R WRC was perfect the entire time. The guys did a fantastic job of preparing the car. So much can happen in Sweden. The conditions in the snow are so difficult – winning here, as only the second central European and ahead of the best rally driver of all time, makes me enormously proud. We had to give 100 per cent, right down to the final day, because Sébastien Loeb was really going for it right through to the finish. I feared that he would make up more time this morning, particularly on the opening ‘Mitandersfors’ stage. However, that was not the case. Now I am just overjoyed.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7:
I am delighted for the entire Volkswagen team. To win a race so early in a debut season is something very special. I would have liked to finish on the podium myself. That was certainly possible here at the Rally Sweden with the Polo R WRC. However, I must still adapt my driving style a bit. Huge compliments go to my team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who showed just what was possible. He was really impressive all weekend. I will do everything in my power to get on a par with him at the forthcoming rallies.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director:
This is a big day for Volkswagen in motorsport. To win the second round of the World Championship under our own steam is a real milestone. The Rally Sweden is one of a kind. The Polo R WRC worked perfectly in these conditions, and Sébastien Ogier took full advantage. He was in a class of his own here. However, Jari-Matti Latvala also performed well. Within the team, all the cogs fit into place perfectly. Today I am just very proud of the guys.”


Statement from rally legend Per Eklund:

"Who would have thought it: Ogier wins the Rally Sweden! In the Polo R WRC! Fantastic! I think Ogier is the new Loeb. He has everything under control. However, we should not underestimate Latvala. His time will come. He still has to get used to the Polo. You could see on teh final special stage just how strong Latvala is - when there were extra points up for grabs."


Classification after 22 of 22 special stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 3:11:41.9    
2 S. Loeb / D. Elena 3:12:23.7 +41.8  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 3:13:06.4 +1:24.5  
4 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3:13:12.5 +1:30.6  
5 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 3:16:48.3 +5:06.4  
6 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 3:17:25.0 +5:43.1  
7 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 3:23:07.3 +11:25.4  
8 H. Solberg / E. Axelsson 3:23:24.6 +11:42.7  
9 E. Novikov / I. Minor 3:24:46.6 +13:04.7  
10 Y. Al Rajhi / M. Orr 3:28:08.9 +16:27.0  


Saving the best for last:
Extra points up for grabs on the Power Stage.

Every World Championship rally features a so-called “Power Stage”. Six bonus points towards the World Championship are up for grabs on this special stage, which is held in the standard format: three for the fastest driver, two for the second place and one for third.

The “Power Stage” is often the only opportunity for drivers who have lost time to pick up a few extra points. Those drivers already destined for a place on the podium are unlikely to risk the 25 points on offer for overall victory, just to pick up a few bonus points. However, anyone languishing further down the overall standings can really come up trumps here. The clever drivers will put on a fresh set of tyres for the “Power Stage”.

This strategy only comes into play if the “Power Stage” comes at the end of the event, as with the 19-kilometre SS 22 “Torsby” at the Rally Sweden. This must not always be the case though. The regulations do stipulate that the “Power Stage” should come at the end of the rally and be at least 15 kilometres long. However, exceptions prove the rule here. At the Rally France, the “Power Stage” comes immediately after the start, while the “Power Stage” at the Rally Portugal is set to be 54 kilometres long.


21 down, one to go!
Sébastien Ogier leads going into the finale.

Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier, his co-driver Julien Ingrassia and the Polo R WRC are now exactly 19.26 kilometres away from clinching their first victory together in the World Rally Championship. Going into the closing Power Stage – SS 22 “Torsby” – the trio is currently a comfortable 35.4 seconds clear of world champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën). Loeb did clock the fastest time on Sunday’s first three stages, but could only reduce the gap to 20.7 seconds. Ogier then won SS 20, while Loeb slipped up slightly on the following special stage.

Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, at the wheel of Volkswagen Motorsport’s second Polo R WRC, is still in with a slight chance of claiming third place. With only the Power Stage to go, he is currently fourth – 8.3 seconds behind Mads Østberg (Ford) in the final podium position.


Comfortable lead for Ogier –

but Loeb is closing in.

A heated duel is developing between the two top favourites in icy Norway: after watching Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier win numerous stages on Friday and Saturday to open up a healthy lead at the top of the standings, his pursuer Sébastien Loeb is gradually fighting his way back into contention. The Citroen driver has already won three special stages today.

Despite this, Ogier still holds a comfortable lead: at the end of SS 19 (Kirkener 1) the Frenchman is still 20.7 seconds ahead of his compatriot Loeb. Mads Østberg (Ford) follows a further 55.4 seconds back in third. Five seconds behind him is Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.



Border traffic:
Why the final leg passes through Norway.

Almost the entire final stage of the Rally Sweden takes place in Norway. One stage – SS 17 “Mitandersfors” – actually crosses the border between the two countries. This feature of the rally is a remnant of the days when Norway used to host its own round of the World Championship.


2005 Rally Sweden turned in to a battle through slush
Ironically, the region in which the Rally Sweden has been staged since the World Championship was launched (1973) is called Värmland (warm land). As such it was no wonder that it has often been touch and go whether the rally would take place, as it was simply too warm around Karlstad. In 1990 it was cancelled completely, due to a lack of snow, while the 2005 race turned into a battle through the slush. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that only studded tyres are allowed in Sweden, and these do not really work on any surface other than snow or ice. Attempts to move the rally from Värmland to the colder north of the country failed, as a result of the strong influence of the Karlstad lobby. However, the Service Park was shifted 80 kilometres further north to Hagfors.


Perfect wintery weather in Norway
The organisers in neighbouring Norway sensed their opportunity. In 2007 and 2009 the Rally Norway was staged as part of the World Championship calendar – in perfect wintery weather around the Olympic venue of Lillehammer. In the first year it followed the Rally Sweden on the calendar, while it actually took the place of the Swedish classic in 2009. However, the proposal to stage the two rallies in alternate years was not a satisfactory long-term solution.

At the same time, cross-border sports events became extremely fashionable. As such, Sweden and Norway took the logical step of join forces and working together in the future. And this year’s event is certainly benefitting from that decision: “There is even more snow in Norway than in Sweden,” reported Volkswagen works driver Sébastien Ogier after practice.


94 kilometres on one set of tyres:
Only limited service is permitted on the final leg.

Only a relatively short 94 kilometres are against the clock on the final leg of the Rally Sweden. However, the closing six special stages must be completed on just one set of tyres. No extensive service is allowed throughout the whole of Sunday. Only a remote service is scheduled prior to the final special stage in Torsby, with the regulations stipulating in great detail what can and cannot be repaired within that 15 minutes.

Mechanics may only take a few tools to this emergency service. If absolutely necessary, they can also take bright auxiliary lights. Apart from this, only the spare parts and tools already located in the rally car are permitted. For this reason, drive shafts and other small parts are sometimes stored inside the car, where they are secured with thick cable retainers. The teams also packed two spare wheels when they left the Service Park in Hagfors this morning.


Ogier leads the way into Norway:
No changes at the top after Sunday’s first stage.

Only about 65 kilometres stand between Sébastien Ogier and his maiden world championship victory for Volkswagen Motorsport. The first special stage on the final leg was also the longest of the day – the 27-kilometre SS 17 Mitandersfors. Ogier’s closest rival Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) did clock the fastest time, but he was only about 3.3 seconds quicker than the Volkswagen works driver. “I could even have afforded to lose seven or eight seconds without getting nervous,” said a smiling Ogier. His lead remains a comfortable 23.6 seconds.

Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala pulled back to within just 5.9 seconds of Mads Østberg (Ford) in the battle for third place. The drivers headed into Norway for the finish of the Mitandersfors stage, and only return to Sweden for the final Power Stage (SS 22 Torsby).


Saturday, 09.02.2013





Victory within Ogier’s grasp

after second leg.

At the end of the second leg of the Rally Sweden, Volkswagen’s first victory in the World Championship is within touching distance. Works driver Sébastien Ogier holds a 26.9-second lead over world champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) after 16 of the 22 scheduled special stages. “A completely problem-free day,” beamed Ogier at the evening service at Hagfors Airport. “I concentrated on adapting my speed to match that of my rivals.” Despite this, Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia still won three of the eight special stages on Saturday.

Newcomer to the team, Jari-Matti Latvala, is also feeling more at home in the Polo R WRC with every outing. SS 10 saw him win his first stage since switching to Volkswagen at the turn of the year. Over the course of the day, the Finn swapped positions with Mads Østberg (Ford) on numerous occasions, but ended the leg just behind the Norwegian in fourth place. “That is obviously a bit frustrating,” admitted Latvala. “However, my goal for tomorrow is very clear. I have to overtake Mads again.” The gap currently stands at 6.1 seconds. The Rally Sweden continues on Sunday with six special stages and about 94 kilometres against the clock.

Classification after 16 of 22 special stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 2:18:22.8    
2 S. Loeb / D. Elena 2:18:49.7 +26.9  
3 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 2:19:20.5 +57.7  
4 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 2:19:26.6 +1:03.8  
5 E. Novikov / I. Minor 2:20:06.3 +1:43.5  
6 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 2:21:39.0 +3:16.2  
7 J. Hänninen / T. Tuominen 2:22:33.3 +4:10.5  
8 H. Solberg / E. Axelsson 2:23:39.5 +5:16.7  
9 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 2:26:18.9 +7:56.1  
10 D. Sordo / C. Del Barrio 2:26:54.7 +8:31.9  


Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7

“I am not entirely happy today. This is because I must work on my performance, rather than that of the Polo R WRC. The car’s performance is there, but knowing exactly where the limit is has not yet become second nature to me."

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8

“Up until now it has really been a perfect rally for us. The car is simply brilliant, which makes it a joy to drive quickly. There is no reason for me to go all out on the attack. Despite this, we are still putting our foot down, as the opposition is applying plenty of pressure. Sébastien Loeb, in particular, is one man you can never write off."

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A big compliment goes to both drivers, who did another great job today. Fastest times on five of the eight stages shows that the Polo R WRC is working well in the special conditions you find at the Rally Sweden. You can see from the results that Sébastien Ogier feels at home in the car – and from the big grin on his face at the service. That gives the entire team additional motivation to give everything again on the final day of the rally tomorrow. I am also pleased for Jari-Matti Latvala, who won his first stage for us today."


Statement from rally legend Per Eklund:


“Unbelievable. Ogier really has everything under control. Because he is starting after Loeb, he is constantly informed of his split times. As soon as Loeb goes a bit faster, Ogier steps on the gas again. He appears to have more in reserve and is rarely really driving at 100 per cent. Why is Ogier faster than Latvala here? That is a good question! I don’t know.


However, I am sure that Latvala is not taking any big risks, even though he is involved in a real battle with Østberg. Latvala knows that he is driving for the World Championship, and that it is a long season. The last day of the rally will be particularly nervy: there is no service, just fuel and tyres. If there is a technical problem, you somehow have to get the car to the finish.”


Glasses give Latvala the edge in stage win:
The secret behind Latvala’s colourful lenses

The Finns are very down-to-earth people and not particularly known for following the latest fashion trends. Volkswagen works driver Jari-Matti Latvala is no exception – although his collection of ultra-fashionable glasses might leave some wondering whether he is a secret fashion monger. However, there is a very practical reason behind the yellow spectacles, in which Latvala is regularly seen during the Rally Sweden. “The tinted glasses increase the contrast,” says the Finn. “In difficult light conditions, this allows me to better recognise the border between the snow-covered road and snowdrifts at the side of the route.”

This proved to be particularly beneficial on the Fredriksberg special stage, which the drivers negotiated for the first time as SS 10 under a cloudy sky and in hazy light. In these conditions, the snow-covered landscape provides very little contrast and appears as one single white plane. Not so, however, if you are wearing glasses with tinted lenses. It was on precisely this stage that Jari-Matti Latvala won his first special stage in Volkswagen Motorsport colours.      


“Control, not attack.”
Sébastien Ogier defends his lead.

Sébastien Ogier continues to lead the Rally Sweden at Saturday’s mid-day service. World champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) did eat into his lead by a few seconds, but the Volkswagen works driver does not see this as any cause for concern. “Everything is still running smoothly. I do not need to attack, and can afford to sit back and control events.” As Ogier is the last of the top drivers to start each of the special stages, he can adapt his speed to match that of his rivals.

Jari-Matti Latvala, at the wheel of the second Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC remains embroiled in a thrilling duel for third place. His lead over Mads Østberg (Ford) is now just 1.5 seconds. “I have to work harder on my driving style,” said the Finn. “At the moment I am still drifting too much.”


Fastest out of the blocks:
Ogier extends lead at the start of second leg.

Saturday has so far seen Sébastien Ogier continue where he left off on Friday. The Volkswagen works driver opened the second leg of the Rally Sweden with another stage win. His lead over world champion Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) now stands at 33.5 seconds after SS 9. Jari-Matti Latvala, currently third in the second Polo R WRC, is coming under pressure from Mads Østberg (Ford), with just 5.9 seconds separating the pair after nine special stages.


Beware of the elks!


Sweden – the land of the elk. While people in Germany are scared that they will collide with a deer or boar when driving through areas where wild animals cross, in Scandinavia it’s not unusual to find a fully grown elk standing in the middle of the road. Accordingly, a club (similar to the Automobile Association) is on hand in the service park in Hagfors to inform people of the dangers of wild animals on Swedish roads – using a full-size elk which has made itself comfortable on the bonnet of a Saab.

Friday, 08.02.2013


Statement from rally legend Per Eklund:

“I’m really impressed. The two Volkswagens are performing fantastically. And Ogier seems to have everything well under control. His precision on the narrower forest tracks in particular is remarkable – there’s an awful lot of loose snow there. It was worth being the fastest in the qualifier. That allowed him to choose starting position 17, putting 16 snowploughs in front of him. But the rally is far from over. I think Latvala will really go on the offensive tomorrow.”


What a day.

Statements from the Volkswagen team.


Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #7
“It’s looking good for us. Our team-mate Sébastien Ogier is incredibly fast, but we’re not all that far behind. And we’ve got a close-run duel with Sébastien Loeb on our hands for second place. We changed the tuning of my Polo R WRC a bit on the third special stage, which had a positive effect. The car is performing really well, but I’m not yet managing to get the best out of it all the time. The conditions were really difficult today and the intercom wasn’t working for part of the afternoon, so we had to improvise. All in all, I’m very pleased with the result though.”

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8
“An incredible day for us. More than half a minute’s lead at the end of day one is a really big surprise. My Polo was perfect today. Even the test last weekend in Sweden went well, but we didn’t know how good the car would really be in these conditions – now we’ve got the answer. The team did an absolutely fantastic job. All the same, we haven’t won anything yet; it was just day one of the Rally Sweden. The course is really difficult, as you can tell from the slip-ups made by a few top drivers. We’ve still got two tough legs to go, but of course we want to defend our lead to the bitter end on Sunday now.”

Jost Capito, Director of Volkswagen Motorsport
“A remarkable day’s rallying for Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. Such a big lead is a huge margin for the Rally Sweden. Both drivers did a great job today. And we learnt some valuable lessons about the Polo R WRC’s capabilities today. We expect another tough and interesting battle for first place tomorrow.”


Ogier takes first place

with five best times.

The Rally Sweden has got off to a sensational start. By the end of the first leg, Volkswagen’s factory driver Sébastien Ogier had secured himself a 31.4-second lead – a huge margin for this high-speed rally on ice and snow. What’s more, it was only the Polo R WRC’s second outing. “We did some more work to fine-tune the undercarriage during a final test last Sunday,” says Ogier. “There can be no doubt now that we managed to get it spot on.” His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala is in third place at this stage of the event.

Ogier secured five out of a possible seven best times in the course of the first leg. “I didn’t even have to take too many risks,” admits the Frenchman. “My car has still got plenty in reserve.” The only problem was a faulty gearbox this morning, meaning that Ogier had to use the clutch, which is not usually necessary. The gearbox was replaced during the service break at lunchtime, resolving the issue. “Tomorrow, I’ll be able to adjust my speed to what everyone else is doing,” says Ogier, looking ahead. Like the other competitors, he receives text messages with details of interim times during the special stages. “That gives me a clear strategic advantage.”

Jari-Matti Latvala showed that he has nerves of steel in the seventh special stage, when the comms link to his co-pilot Miikka Anttila suddenly failed while they were travelling at 150 km/h. “I drove along without instructions for about ten kilometres and had to rely on my memory.” Then he managed to sort out the loose connection by repeatedly plugging the lead in and unplugging it again. Incredibly, this problem added less than ten seconds to his time.


However, it did cost him second place, which he held for a while during the race. “I’ll reclaim it tomorrow,” announced Latvala, who is just 1.7 seconds behind the world champion, Sébastien Loeb. “My confidence in the Polo R WRC is growing with every metre. That automatically makes me faster.”

Classification after eight of 22 special stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:16:00.1    
2 S. Loeb / D. Elena 1:16:31.5 +31.4  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:16:33.2 +33.1  
4 M. Østberg / J. Andersson 1:16:42.4 +42.3  
5 E. Novikov / I. Minor 1:17:11.8 +1:11.7  
6 P. Tidemand / O. Fløene 1:17:22.2 +1:22.1  
7 J. Hanninen / T. Tuominen 1:17:49.6 +1:49.5  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:18:00.3 +2:00.2  
9 H. Solberg / E. Axelsson 1:19:25.4 +3:25.3  
10 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 1:20:43.4 +4:43.3  


A comfortable lead:
Ogier wins his fifth stage.

It’s going like clockwork for Volkswagen’s pairing of Ogier and Ingrassia. Following the seventh special stage (Vargåsen 2), the team in the Polo R WRC #8 has already secured an ample 32.2-second lead over the second-placed duo, Loeb and Elena. Vargåsen 2 was Sébastien Ogier’s fifth stage win of the day. “A perfect day for us,” said the delighted Frenchman. Volkswagen’s number two team – Latvala and Anttila – is currently third, 1.5 seconds behind second place.


Colin’s Crest – the most famous

jump in the WRC.

The special stage bears the evocative name “wolves’ hill” – or Vargåsen in Swedish. About halfway through the 25-kilometre course, which makes up special stages four and seven on Friday, is the most famous jump in the whole WRC: Colin’s Crest. The crest is named after the former world champion Colin McRae, who wowed spectators here with his breathtaking jumps. Every year, almost ten thousand fans flock to this section of course alone, which is only about 200 metres long.

In honour of the legendary Colin McRae
Since 2008, the organisers of the Rally Sweden have been presenting the Colin’s Crest Award to the driver who flies furthest through the air here before smacking back down onto the icy track. It is a highly coveted prize in memory of the legendary Scottish driver McRae, who died in a helicopter crash in 2007. One of the two record holders is YouTube superstar Ken Block, who leapt a daring 37 metres over the crest in 2011, replicating the Norwegian driver Marius Aasen’s achievement one year earlier. Putting the pedal to the metal is one thing. Sitting helplessly in the passenger seat as you fly through the air at 150 km/h is another. We talked to two very brave co-drivers.


Colin's Crest doesn't forgive any mistakes
“Colin’s Crest is only really the last in a whole series of crests,” says Julien Ingrassia, who shares the cockpit of the Polo R WRC with Sébastien Ogier. “It’s relentless. So you just don’t have time to enjoy the huge jump at Colin’s Crest.” For Miikka Anttila, Jari-Matti Latvala’s co-driver, the leap itself isn’t the problem. “Because the track is extremely narrow after Colin’s Crest, you can’t afford to make any mistakes when you land. One metre off the ideal line and you end up in the forest.”


But that isn’t the only reason why Anttila is glad that his driver Latvala always brakes briefly before Colin’s Crest. He knows that long jumps aren’t always the fastest solution because cars lose speed rapidly in the air. “The sooner all four wheels are back on the ground,” explains Anttila, “the sooner you can accelerate fully again.”



Two consecutive best times:
Sébastien Ogier defends his lead.

The Volkswagen factory team drivers Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala put in a perfect performance during the first stage of the Rally Sweden. Ogier is at the top of the table following the first four special stages. The Frenchman won two special stages on Friday morning. His team-mate Latvala is currently placed third, 10.9 seconds behind the leader.


“I was lacking in confidence a bit this morning,” admits Latvala. “But I think I’ve sorted that out now.” World champion Sébastien Loeb is in second place, between the two Volkswagen drivers. Four more special stages are scheduled after lunch.


Great start to the day:
Ogier wins special stage 2.

Sébastien Ogier knows that good things come to those who wait. The winner of yesterday’s qualifier deliberately chose a starting position towards the back of the grid for the first special stage on Friday (Lesjöfors 1), so that the route ahead of him would be as clear as possible. The plan worked: Ogier completed the stage in the fastest time at the wheel of the Volkswagen Polo R WRC #8!

"No easy conditions, but I did ok", said the Frenchman.


His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala took 2.2 seconds longer to cross the finishing line in the Polo R WRC #7. Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) took third place 1.3 seconds behind Latvala. Keep it up, lads!

Thursday, 07.02.2013



SS1 Karlstad:
Jari-Matti Latvala sets second-fastest time.
Showdown on Stage 1 on Thursday evening. On the horse racetrack in Karlstad, the teams faced each other in pairs, with the line-up decided by the preferences of rally fans voting on the internet. Accordingly, Sébastien Ogier went head-to-head against world champion Sébastien Loeb, with Jari-Matti Latvala facing his Finnish compatriot and Loeb’s Citroën team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen. While Latvala won his duel, in the process setting the second-fastest stage time – equalled by Evgeny Novikov – team-mate Ogier made contact with a snow bank. Time lost: approximately two seconds. The Frenchman thus ended ninth. “I was also off-line a few times,“ commented Latvala during the overnight halt, “but fortunately only by a few centimetres.“


Statement from rally legend Per Eklund:

"Although it wasn’t obvious today, the two Polos left a very strong impression. Ogier suffered a bit of bad luck during his spectacular appearance on the first stage, as the snow banks surrounding the pony-trotting track were frozen, and were thus as hard as concrete. My hot favourite for overall victory remains Latvala!”


Sébastien Ogier selects 17th starting position.
Team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala to start twelfth.

As announced, Sébastien Ogier has selected the last possible starting position – 17th. Having proven fastest in qualifying for Rallye Sweden, Volkswagen Motorsport’s French driver was in a position to select his starting position for Friday’s opening stage.
With light snow continuing to fall in the Hagfors area, the drivers are expecting loose snow on the stages, which needs to be swept aside by the frontrunners. “This can cost up to half a second per kilometre,” estimates Ogier. The Frenchman can now rely on 16 snowploughs to do the job for him.
That the competition harboured similar thoughts is reflected in the starting order, which mirrors the qualifying result. Jari-Matti Latvala, driving the second Polo R WRC entered by Volkswagen Motorsport, lines up twelfth on Friday.


“It’s about time it finally got going ...”

... says Steven Arstberg in Hagfors. He has travelled to the rally from Stockholm with his family and is strolling through snow-covered streets between the team hospitality areas and souvenir stalls. “A huge surprise,” is how he describes Volkswagen’s victory in the qualifier. He wants to be in Karlstad this evening too when the first stage of the Rally Sweden starts. “I don’t care if it’s snowing and minus ten degrees. We’re more than used to this kind of weather in Sweden,” jokes Arstberg, pointing to his typical Scandinavian helmet with horns on the sides – a throwback to the Viking era. So who does he think will win the snow and ice rally this year? “Either Loeb or Ogier – that would be great. Then at least it wouldn’t be a Finn for a change,” reckons Arstberg, who generally considers the Finnish drivers to be virtually unbeatable on this terrain. Finns have been at the wheel of the winning car in eight of the last ten rallies in Sweden.


From top to toe:
How Volkswagen prepares for icy temperatures.

The Rally Sweden is like nothing else on the WRC calendar. Snow, ice and temperatures well below freezing make specific demands of the vehicles’ technology as well as the drivers. “The rulebook is pretty strict. But we’re allowed to make special arrangements concerning a few important details,” says François-Xavier Demaison, the project manager responsible for the Polo R WRC at Volkswagen Motorsport.


Additional heater keeps feet warm
For instance, the oils used for the engine, gearbox and differentials are designed for low temperatures. In addition to this, the cars need smaller oil and water radiators than for rallies in warmer climes. The large opening above the windscreen, which allows fresh air into the cockpit, is also sealed shut. “Instead, we fit an additional heater inside the car, which serves primarily to keep the driver’s and co-driver’s feet warm,” explains Demaison.

Special "Sweden studs" fitted to the rims
All in all, similar adjustments are made to the chassis and drive system as for a rally on soft gravel. “Even the 15-inch wheel rims are the same,” adds Demaison. For this reason, the same smaller braking system is used for snow and gravel (the larger one only fits under the 18-inch wheel rims of the asphalt chassis). However, special “Sweden studs” are fitted to the rims instead of the heavy-tread gravel tyres. Both the drivers and co-drivers wear tough overshoes made from felt (picture above). Otherwise they would probably get frostbitten toes just walking from the service area to get lunch in their thin driving shoes.

Some requirements are also laid down in the rules and regulations. For example, warm jackets and two shovels have to be carried in each car. “But we’d only need them if we got stuck in a bank of snow,” says Volkswagen’s factory driver Jari-Matti Latvala. “In other words, never – hopefully.”

That said, the shovels in the Polo R WRCs driven by Latvala and his team-mate Sébastien Ogier have proved handy in very different conditions: on board the Race Touareg which has won Volkswagen the Rally Dakar three times.



Great start to the Rally Sweden:
Ogier sets the pace during qualifying.

Things could hardly have got off to a better start! Volkswagen driver Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #8) has already made his mark on the Rally Sweden, completing the 3.99-kilometre qualifier in the fastest time. Jari-Matti Latvala finished sixth in his Polo R WRC #7. The Finn dropped 2.7 seconds on his Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier on the stage because his engine stalled at the start.


This result gives both crews a good choice of starting position for the Friday of the rally in Sweden – the best drivers in qualifying get to choose their start position first.


Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8

“A good start to the Rally Sweden. I am extremely happy, as that was an ideal drive in qualifying. The car set-up is also right, so we will not have to make any major changes there. It is important to get the right tactic when selecting your starting position here in Sweden. As the top car in qualifying, I now have a free choice, which gives me a small advantage. My goal remains a place on the podium. "


Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7

“I am very happy with the way the free practice and qualifying panned out. I had a good feeling of the way the car was handling. Apart from one short moment, it was a really good qualifying for me. The motor died briefly at the start, but after that I got through the stage cleanly. As such, I was surprised how good the time was in the end."

Overall classification after eight of 22 stages.

Position Driver / Co-Driver Total Time Diff 1st  
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 1:16:00.1    
2 S. Loeb / D. Elena 1:16:31.5 +31.4  
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1:16:33.2 +33.1  
4 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson 1:16:42.4 +42.3  
5 E. Novikov / I. Minor 1:17:11.8 +1:11.7  
6 P. Tidemand / O. Fløene 1:17:22.2 +1:22.1  
7 J. Hanninen / T. Tuominen 1:17:49.6 +1:49.5  
8 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul 1:18:00.3 +2:00.2  
9 H. Solberg / E. Axelsson 1:19:25.4 +3:25.3  
10 M. Prokop / M. Ernst 1:20:43.4 +4:43.3  


Wednesday, 06.02.2013


Current pictures: recce

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia drive through the stage in a Volkswagen Golf R to prepare their pace notes. This procedure is the so-called "recce".

Learn more about the regulations in the rally lexicon.


Just in time: snow in Sweden.
Temperatures of -20 °C expected at the weekend.

It may not yet be enough to create the metre-high roadside banks of snow which would have transformed the special stages of the Rally Sweden into a kind of bobsleigh run. However, Tuesday’s (7 February) fairly spectacular snowfall has still ensured that the second WRC event of the 2013 season will live up to its reputation as a snow rally.

Paradoxically, temperatures are rising as the snow falls. In Hagfors – where staff putting the finishing touches to the many marquees in the service park enjoyed glorious sunny spells on today's Wednesday – the temperature was only just below freezing. This milder weather is only expected to last until Thursday though, with forecasts of tumbling temperatures as the weekend approaches. In Norway, where five special stages will be completed on Sunday, thermometers are expected to plummet as low as -20 °C. A chilly welcome for the WRC cars – but that's just how Rally Sweden has got to be!


Facts about Rally Sweden.

Did you know ...

... the Rally Sweden was first held in 1950 and will be staged for the 60th time in 2013? Since 1950, only three years have passed, in which the “Sweden” did not form part of the World Rally Championship: in 1974 it was cancelled due to the oil crisis, in 1990 due to poor weather, and in 2009 when the FIA rotation system meant it was not included on the calendar.

Learn more about the history of the Rally Sweden

... the “poor weather” that prevented the 1990 Rally Sweden from taking place actually refers to it being too mild? Back then, there was too little snow to stage a real “Sweden”.

... the Rally Sweden is a real home event for Scandinavian drivers? Only once has the rally, which is the only race on the calendar that is always held on ice and snow, been won by a man from outside Sweden, Norway and Finland. In 2004, Sébastien Loeb and his co-driver Daniel Elena (F/MC, Citroën) were victorious.

... the Volkswagen team is excellently prepared for the icy temperatures at the Rally Sweden? Taking the approach that layers are the best way to combat the cold, the mandatory team attire includes an outdoor jacket with a fur hood, soft-shell jacket, thermal underlayer, pullover, and polo shirt or team shirt. The team’s shoes are also completely suitable for use in wintery conditions.

Learn more about Sweden: facts and figures of the host country

... the organisers of the Rally Sweden present the “Colin’s Crest Award” for the longest jump over a crest on the Vargåsen stage, in memory of Colin McRae? Previous winners since 2008: Khalid Al Qassimi (UAE), Marius Aasen (N), Ken Block (USA) and Ott Tänak (EST).

... the Rally Sweden is the first event of the 2013 season to feature two spectator stages, known as "Super Special Stages"? The 1.9-kilometre “Färjestadstravet” stage in Karlstad will be held twice on a harness racing track.

Learn more about the special stages of the Rally Sweden

Tuesday, 05.02.2013


Dancing on ice with 384 studs.
Why the Rally Sweden is one of fastest events despite ultra-slippery roads.

The road conditions in Sweden in February are enough to give anyone from Central Europe nightmares. Aside from the main routes, most roads are either buried underneath thick snow or completely covered with ice – sometimes both, in which case a thin layer of snow conceals ice several centimetres thick.

In spite of this, the Rally Sweden, which uses precisely these roads (and this year briefly crosses the border into Norway), is one of the fastest events in the world championship. The gravel roads that make up the Rally Finland are the only place where the drivers achieve higher average speeds.

This may seem contradictory to start with, but the secret lies in the tyres – known as “Sweden studs” – which are not used for any other WRC event. Their specifications take up several pages of the rallying rulebook.

For instance, a maximum of 20 studs are permitted per ten centimetres of tyre surface. That means no more than 384 per tyre. The studs themselves can be up to 20 millimetres long, may weigh no more than four grams and must be cylindrical in shape. The maximum diameter at the base is nine millimetres, with a minimum diameter of 2.5 millimetres at the tip.

Michelin, Volkswagen Motorsport’s partner at the World Rally Championship, uses “X-Ice North 2 WRC” tyres. With a tyre size of 195/65 R 15, they may seem pale in comparison to the slicks used for tarmac rally stages at a beefy 215/45 R 18. However, the comparatively narrow tread means that the tyre penetrates any layer of snow and makes contact with the icy road beneath, which the studs – made from ultra-hard tungsten – grip like there is no tomorrow. “In optimum conditions, the traction is actually better than on gravel,” explains Volkswagen factory team driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who has already won the Rally Sweden twice.


Historic review.

Rally Sweden 1965: The later World Rally champion Björn Waldegård (with co-driver Lars Nyström)

is racing his Volkswagen 1500 S.


"Don't miss Colin's Crest!"

A chat with rally legend Per Eklund.

One thing is for sure before the Rally Sweden even starts: rally legend Per Eklund will be right at the front of the pack. “Before the first WRC starts, I'll drive around the route in a Volkswagen Polo,” says Eklund. He and ex-rallying world champion Björn Waldegård are responsible for spectator safety. None of the special stages can begin if just a single fan strays into one of the safety zones, he adds. But Eklund is optimistic: “Luckily, people listen to us!”

Formula 1 on ice.
Eklund knows every inch of the special stages in Sweden's snow-covered forests. This is where he completed his first rally in 1965, driving a Volkswagen 1500 S. In 1976, he won the Swedish WRC event. In 1984, he finished third in an Audi quattro A2 (picture above). That's gaining him a place in the fans' “hall of fame”, and it's not the only reason why the Rally Sweden is one of the most exciting rallies in the world in his eyes. “Powering through the forests at full speed between the snow banks is Formula 1 on ice,” gushes Eklund. But do the cars have enough traction to go at high speed on the ice? Eklund: “Without a doubt! The studs give you more grip than you have on a dry course in summer.”

Take a trip back in time with the Rally Historic.
So which of the special stages is a must for diehard fans? Eklund's reply, without a moment’s hesitation, is Vargåsen. Drivers complete the 24.63-kilometre stage – which includes the infamous Colin’s Crest – twice on the opening day of the rally, starting at 10:43 a.m. and 3:25 p.m. “Between the rounds, you can admire rally cars from the 60s, 70s and 80s,” says Eklund. “This is an event not to be missed! Fans can make a camp fire, bring themselves plenty to eat and drink, and enjoy rallying all day long.”

Say hello to old friends.
Eklund also recommends the 17th special stage (Mitandersfors) on the last day for early birds. He and Waldegård have to be up bright and early to check the course at 6:30 a.m. – since the first WRC car starts at 7:54 a.m. As well as crossing the border into Norway, Mitanderfors goes right past former rallying world champion Petter Solberg's pad. There is even somewhere to park right on the doorstep for those who are familiar with the local area – and Solberg won’t be around to chase spectators off his terrace, as he will be competing in the Rally Historic.

Eklund’s tip: Jari-Matti Latvala.
So who will win the rally? Eklund doesn't need to think about that one for long: “Jari-Matti Latvala – he's my absolute favourite to win the event!” He won the rally last year, the veteran driver adds, and the fast stages play right into Latvala's hand.

Monday, 04.02.2013


What is your best memory of the Rally Sweden?
“The moment when I won Rally Sweden in 2008 becoming the youngest ever won a WRC event and beating my idol Henri Toivonen`s record.”
When I think of Sweden, I think of …
“ … the country like Finland but different language and ice-hockey.”
Which special stage do you respect most?
“Special Stage Fredriksberg which follows lake for a first half of the stage and the 2nd half is inside the deep forest with high speed and over jumps.”
Which special stage has the biggest fun factor?
“Sågen because it is a wide and „flowing“ road.”
Where can fans see the best action?
“Last corner in Sågen which is the most difficult one in the rally or Colin’s Crest in Vargåsen.”
Which local speciality is not to be missed?
“The center of Karlstad which is very beautiful and cozy.”
Are you going to the after-rally party in Karlstad?
“If I will do a reasonable result in the rally, then yes!”
After the Rally Sweden I will …
“ … have a week holiday in California before Rally Mexico.”

What is your best memory of the Rally Sweden?
“It’s difficult to have only one memory. I like the Rally Sweden very much. Last time in a WRC car my pace was pretty good when I finished fourth. Really looking forward to it.”
When I think of Sweden, I think of …
“ … snow and white landscape.”
Which special stage do you respect most?
“Definitely Fredriksberg. It’s very demanding.”
Which special stage has the biggest fun factor?
“Sågen. Wide and fast, enjoyable to drive.”
Where can fans see the best action?
“There are many good places. Definitely the best is Colin’s Crest, if you can manage to get a good view.”
Which local speciality is not to be missed?
“Moose steak! I really like Swedish cuisine.”
Are you going to the after-rally party in Karlstad on Friday evening?
“Maybe on Sunday, but that depends on our results in the rally.”
After the Rally Sweden I will …
“ … have a big sleep to recharge my batteries.”

Friday, 01.02.2013


Statements from Team Volkswagen Motorsport.

Jari-Matti Latvala, Polo R WRC #7

“I really like the Rally Sweden. The event requires a very quick and flowing driving style on Swedish forest roads. There is nothing to criticise about the event – with one exception: it can get very cold there, with temperatures reaching as low as minus 20 or even minus 30 degrees. I have fond memories of the Rally Sweden, such as my very first WRC victory in 2008 and, of course, my win there last year. My goal for this season is to finish in the top five.”


Sébastien Ogier, Polo R WRC #8

“The season could hardly have started better for us. Heading to Sweden with 18 points to our name is a very nice position to be in. This allows us to relax a little. However, we are now faced with a new rally. Let’s see what we are capable of on this surface. It is hard to predict what awaits us there. We will have to wait until after the first few special stages. I really like the Rally Sweden."


Wrap up warm!
The countdown to the Rally Sweden is on.

Adrenaline levels are slowly rising again. There are just a few days remaining until the Rally Sweden begins – at last. Four days of hot rally action await us over 1,589 kilometres of snow and ice. It certainly will be frosty: according to the latest forecasts, sub-zero temperatures and snowfall are expected for the rally weekend (7 till 10 February) – the perfect setting for the only genuine winter rally on the racing calendar.

And ideal conditions for Jari-Matti Latvala. That’s because the Finn is very well acquainted with snow and ice, as he has already shown in impressive style: in 2008 and 2012, the Latvala/Anttila team secured victory in the world’s iciest rally.  Could the Volkswagen team in the Polo R WRC #7 perhaps repeat that success? People will also be looking forward to seeing Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in the Polo R WRC #8. After all, the two Frenchmen drove to a sensational second place straightaway at the Rally Monte Carlo 2013 – a clear statement to their established WRC rivals.

Latvala and Ogier will be able to feel the snow under their spikes on Sunday, 3 February, when the test runs get under way. Things start getting really serious on Thursday, 7 February. A free training session is scheduled for eight o’clock in the morning; qualifying starts at half past eleven. Spectacular synchronised drifts will finally herald the start of the rally in the evening (8.04 p.m.) with the special spectator stage (SS 1) at Karlstad racecourse.

Despite the expected ice-cold temperatures, things are also sure to heat up on Friday, because seven special stages are scheduled, including the SS Vargåsen with its legendary ‘long jump party’ at Colin’s Crest. On Saturday, the drivers have to complete ruthless special stages in Sågen, Fredriksberg, Rämmen and the sprint in Hagfors, before moving on to Norway for day four of the rally – Mitandersfors, Kirkener and Finnskogen are considered dead certs for snow. After Torsby (WP 22, Power Stage), the cars head back towards Karlstad for the presentation ceremony.