Here at DirtFish we think we know a little bit about the stages. And we do know a bit. But we don’t know as much about them as Hyundai Motorsport’s Craig Breen. He knows a lot.
That’s why we’ve stepped down and, in the middle of his very busy schedule, our most favourite of Waterford World Rally Championship stars has taken a moment or two to tap out his thoughts on the stages used for days one and two of Rally Sweden.
“Before I get started on the stages,” says Breen, “the first thing I want to say is a very big thank you to the organisers of the event.
“They have done a fantastic job and you have to feel for them; this is their round of the WRC and they’ve worked as hard as they always do. So thank you.”
“Now, the reason we’re all here. The stages.”
Hof-Finnskog (13.21 miles)
“When we came through here on the recce on Wednesday, this was stage which was looking most like we would remember it with some snow.
“The route really hasn’t changed in the last couple of years.
“It starts with some medium-fast corners, but then after five or six kilometres it starts to get really, really fast.
“The road’s raised up a fair bit here as well, so there are some big ditches waiting there to catch you out.”
Finnskogen (12.85 miles)
“This was looking a bit more bare on the recce. There was a fair bit of gravel in the middle of this one – for maybe even as much as six or seven kilometres, not a hint of snow.
“Of course that could change before we get there on Friday and Saturday.
“After that gravel, the road’s back onto ice – which is going to make it interesting if we’ve lost some of the studs.
“The stage follows a lake and it’s the one with probably the nicest profile of the rally. And it’s very, very quick.”
Nyckelvattnet (11.76 miles)
“After crossing the border [to Norway] for those two stages first thing, we’re back over to Sweden for Nyckelvattnet.
“This is a new one for everybody and it’s a nadgery, tricky little thing. There’s not so much natural flow. The contour and profile doesn’t flow like the other ones.”
Torsby Sprint (1.73 miles)
“Finally we’ll come back to service for Torsby Sprint, which is a fairly quick dash along the side of the service park.
“It might be a short one, but you’ll still have to keep your wits about you on this one as well.”
So there we have it, the word of the man who finished second here in Sweden two years ago.
The only other change we need to tell you about is the inclusion of a further remote tyre fitting zone, which is to be slotted in after Finnskogen.
The crews will be permitted another two tyres there, meaning fresh rubber will be available for all three of the loop’s longer stages.