WRC Rally Sweden review

We look at what the first round of 2011 tells us about the season ahead. Plus Videos

So, the first round of the new WRC era is over – what have we learned?

  • Scandinavian’s are still very quick in the snow – they filled the podium. A non-Scandinavian hasn’t won since Loeb in 2004
  • The new Fiestas locked out the podium, so they seem to be faster than the new DS3. On snow, at least.
  • Hirvonen looks like he might have got his mojo back. It could just be the snow but he showed real commitment and great speed on the second day. 
  • Both Mads Ostberg (second overall) and PG Anderson (leading after the first stage and very quick throughout apart from the small issue of a roll and a puncture) have the potential to be this season’s Ogier-style breakthrough act.
  • The Power Stage seemed to go down well. Ogier won and gained three world championship points in the process, Loeb was second and Latvala third. It will be interesting to see what effect the Power Stage points have at the end of the championship. Wish it was on some sort of terrestrial television though…
  • Kimi Raikkonen is getting a lot better. He finished eighth, comfortably beating Matthew Wilson and Khalid Al Qassimi.
  • The road sweeping issue still needs to be addressed otherwise Loeb might as well swap his Nomex for a high-vis vest and a truck with brushes underneath. He was massively hampered by the fresh snow on the first day, just as he was by loose gravel on so many rallies last year. He also had punctures. It wasn’t his weekend – he finished sixth.
  • Petter Solberg isn’t above the law. He got caught speeding on a road section on Friday afternoon and issued with a ban. Under Swedish law you have 48hours grace until the ban kicks in. This meant he could drive all the satges up until the last one when his co-driver, Chris Patterson (who had never driven the car before), had to step into the breech and drive. He brought the car home and they still came fifth overall, beating Loeb.

All in all, it was a hugely enjoyable rally, and it bodes well for the rest of the 2011 season. Let's just have it on more widely available television. Below are the feeds from ESPN of the Power stage. The first video is a quick review of the rally up to that point, the second two videos are the coverage of the Power Stage.

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