Hyundai braced for ‘not straightforward’ Sweden

Neuville may have won the Monte, but this week is a step into the unknown


Not straightforward and less interesting, that’s the view of Sweden for Hyundai team principal Andrea Adamo and his championship-leading driver Thierry Neuville as the series moves tentatively into round two rally week.

The unseasonal conditions around Torsby have continued over the weekend, with plus temperatures during the day dipping below freezing for some of the night. There have been snow flurries, but nothing like the kind of winter conditions crews had been hoping for.

The roads across the border in Norway are more stable, courtesy of longer cold spells and more snow.

Ahead of the event, Adamo paid tribute to the Rally Sweden organisers, saying: “We appreciate the concerted efforts of the organisers and the FIA to make Rally Sweden happen.

“The conditions are uncharacteristically warm for this time of the year and we acknowledge the challenges that have been faced in preparing for the rally, with safety at the forefront of the decision-making process.”

Having won an emotional season-opener in Monte Carlo last month, Adamo accepts the team still has to find more pace and that this week could be similarly challenging with changeable winter conditions.

He added: “We head to Sweden on the back of a victory in Monte-Carlo but knowing that we have some areas of improvement in our performance level.

“We don’t expect this event to be straightforward but we will focus on managing the things in our control to deliver the best result we can.”

Monte winner Neuville explained the issues with the conditions, saying: “An ideal Rally Sweden would have lots of snow, huge snowbanks, very icy roads, the perfect conditions for us to go fast with full confidence to get the most out of the car.

“When the road is properly frozen, the studs get good grip and you can go flat out. Obviously, if there will be less snow than previous years it could be quite tough to do the stages.

“Our tyres are very thin and very high, so they won’t work the same on gravel stages and it’s going to be really tricky. Without the snowbanks, the rally gets faster and faster, and less interesting, so we keep our fingers crossed for a lot of snow to arrive.”

Neuville knows what it takes to win here, having taken maximum points for Hyundai on a particularly snowy Sweden in 2018.

Words:David Evans