WRC: Sweden does not disappoint
First held in 1950, WRC Rally Sweden remains one of the most iconic races on the WRC calendar and the 2023 campaign was nothing short of epic. WRC Rally Sweden 2023 featured 18 rally stages in a weekend full of ups, downs, copious amounts of snow and some rivalries reignited. 6 teams walked away as stage winners this round with one team emerging as the overall round winner in statement making fashion.
Driver Ott Tänaka ended the a 385 day victory drought at M-Sport Ford and soared to the top of the table in the title race. Tänak had previously driven for M-Sport in 2011 and 2017 before spending a few stents with rival teams Toyota and Hyundai. “It obviously means a lot to me, to come into a new car and deliver to these guys [at M-Sport].” Tänak said. “It’s a big effort for them to fight against such big manufacturers. I’m sure they’re getting quite a bit of stress from me, but as long as it’s delivering then we are all winning. It’s great to be part of this team.”
In his second appearance for M-Sport in 2023 Tänak claimed a commanding victory against rival Craig Breen; Italian driver for Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team whom ended round two 18.7 seconds behind Tänak. In surprising fashion, M-Sport only won one stage out of the 18 for the weekend but were able to stay at the top of the table to secure a final P1 position.
In the Hyundai camp Thierry Neuville won five stages and Breen won four but due to an untimely mistake running wide in one instance and then crashing into the snow banks in another the call from team principal Cyril Abiteboul ended in failure to secure Neuville third position in the power stage. “It didn’t work, but I think we have done the right thing from the team perspective,” he said. Neuville who is a full season driver is a championship contender while Breen will only be participating in half the season. Thus the team was trying to maximize their position by placing team orders that would secure a higher finish for Neuville. However, a little bit of bad luck cost them. Despite the unforeseen error Hyundai walks away from Sweden with 9 stage wins and P2 and P3 finishes for the round bumping Neuville into P3 in the championship. These types of decisions are part of motorsports and things don’t always fall in your favor. Hyundai still stands by the decision and it will be interesting to see how the rest of the season unfolds. For more information on upcoming WRC races visit WRC.com
Check out the 2023 Season scheduled here: