Despite suggestions from leading drivers that Royal Rally of Scandinavia would be worthy of a place in the World Rally Championship, event CEO Glenn Olsson has no designs to move the event out of the European championship.
An all-new rally for 2023, based out of Rally Sweden’s old host city of Karlstad, Royal Rally of Scandinavia ran as the fifth round of this year’s ERC last weekend (July 6-8).
Oliver Solberg made a one-off ERC appearance to win his home event from current points leader Hayden Paddon – and both drivers praised the quality of the roads and the organization of the rally.
“It is one of the best high-speed rallies I have ever done,” Solberg told DirtFish.
“Better than Finland in my opinion and Estonia because it’s fast but it’s so technical and really the margin of error is so small.”
Paddon added: “A rally like this could easily be a WRC rally.
“Even if you have Finland in the winter and you have this as a summer one, you could do a bit of a swap.”
That trade is unlikely to happen though, as the event organizer sees plenty of benefit in keeping the rally in the ERC.
“To move up to WRC has never been the goal with this project,” Olsson told DirtFish.
“I like ERC, I like the concept a lot. I like that you have cars that can be driven by the national rally drivers in Sweden and Norway because for the rally fans it’s so much nicer to have the greatest stars with the national drivers.
“So the concept within the ERC with Rally2 cars is something as an organizer I believe is sometimes even better because you can have many more national drivers, and I really like the concept of ending on Saturday night as then the rally is over and everyone can have a party and drive back on Sunday.
“So there are a lot of things I believe are really good in ERC, so for me it’s just keep on working in this direction and make greater numbers of people and spectators and develop everything around it.
“The next step for us of course will be to develop the festival even more with more activities around the rally itself, greater artists and everything that makes the party feeling increase. So for us it’s time to take the next step and aim a little bit higher and attract more and more people.
“Now the world knows about it – we have good roads, we have really happy drivers. Of course for next year I hope we have even more drivers so then we develop the festival around it, so I am really, really looking forward to seeing double the amount of spectators next year.”
ERC championship manager Iain Campbell made it clear that the organizing team did a “fantastic job”, particularly considering it was the rally’s first year which Campbell – former clerk of the course for Rally GB – said “should always be the hardest part”.
That’s a message that Olsson has been relaying to his team.
“The feedback I’m giving my staff is that we have delivered more than any expectation on us, and that’s the most important for the first year,” he said.
“The most important for us is the feedback we get and it’s been loads and loads of really happy faces around us and we are so pleased that we could deliver in that level in the first year.
“We have a much nicer platform to stand on and to work on now until next year, so this is the start we needed and now we can continue.”