Look at the roads. Don’t look at the thermometer. Whatever you do, don’t look at the thermometer – at least not during the day.
It’s Rally Sweden this week, which means all roads, once again, lead to the WRC’s most northerly point ever in Umeå. Despite the latitude, the weather question’s back.
Once the sun’s up, there’s nothing negative in the forecast from here until Friday morning. On Friday, in the daytime it’ll be -1C (30F), dropping a degree on Saturday before, apparently, popping back up to zero for Sunday’s final day.
The overnights range from -2 to -9 Celsius (16-28F).
Like I said, don’t look at the thermometer.
And why would you? When the roads around Umeå look like these.
Jari-Matti Latvala’s a man who’s seen more than his fair share of Sweden’s, from the deepest of deep freezes to splashing through the mud, pinging studs out of his tires left, right and centre.
Is he worried? No.
“Even this year in Arctic [Rally] this year there was still the snow, but not that much snow,” he told DirtFish. “I think we can be more confident with where the rally is in Sweden – it’s much further north. Yes, there will be better and worse years, but I don’t think we need to worry for cancelling the rally. It’s just more about the surface and the gravel coming through.
“Last week when we were testing in Finland we had plus degrees. The ice layer was broken and we went to the gravel. I think it could be the same conditions in Umeå where we have snow, but the road surface the ice is melting if it stays warm.
“The snow is there, so we should have the snowbanks, but like I said, it’s about the surface of the road.”
Year-on-year we talk about the recipe for a perfect Rally Sweden. Here’s a reminder: heavy, heavy snow, big thaw, a week or so at -20C (-4F) to cement the permafrost deep into the surface as well as providing a stable and rock-solid ice layer on top. Then a stack more snow to rebuild the banks and provide the perfect picture.
And we looked to be on for that. Except it’s warmed up a touch more than the organisers would have wanted.
A spokesman from the event told DirtFish: “Two weeks ago we had almost too much snow, then we had some days with some milder conditions. The conditions are fantastic. We think it will drop to between -10 and -15 degrees through the night.”