Snow is back on the menu in the World Rally Championship as the series makes the long journey north to Umeå and Rally Sweden this week.
The university town hosts the WRC’s only winter round for the third time, after taking over from Karlstad in 2022, and with only minor changes made to this year’s route, the crews will largely know what to expect from the rally this time around.
But that doesn’t mean there’s any lack of excitement heading into the event. The headline news is that defending world champion Kalle Rovanperä returns to the Rally1 field, and the huge number of entries in both WRC2 and JWRC are set to put on an equally mouthwatering sideshow to the main event.
Here’s everything you need to know about Rally Sweden 2024:
Rally Sweden Entry List
- Total 57 crews
- 9 Rally1 crews
- 25 Rally2 crews (20 WRC2)
- 22 Rally3 crews (18 WRC3 / 19 JWRC)
The top class field expands from eight to nine cars for Sweden, with Toyota customer Lorenzo Bertelli joining the party as he did one year ago.
He’ll drive alongside Toyota’s factory line-up including full-season pairing Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta. The third manufacturer points scoring GR Yaris Rally1 will be piloted by the returning Rovanperä.
Hyundai is looking to maintain its winning start to 2024, and will enter three crews. Regulars Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak are joined in the third i20 N by Esapekka Lappi, who makes his first WRC start since Rally Japan last year as he takes over from Andreas Mikkelsen.
M-Sport maintain their two-car entry for Sweden, with Adrien Fourmaux and Grégoire Munster continuing their full-season campaigns.
No less than five brands are competing in Rally2 competition on Rally Sweden in what should be another epic battle for supremacy in the main WRC support class.
Škoda are the most represented brand this weekend with 13 entries, led by last year’s Sweden winner Oliver Solberg, who begins his WRC2 title charge on home soil once again, driving a Toksport Fabia RS.
Printsport’s Sami Pajari begins his point-scoring campaign in Sweden, and is one of seven new Toyota GR Yaris Rally2s in the field. Mikko Heikkilä is another of those entries, fresh from securing the first win for the Yaris on Arctic Lapland Rally, as is reigning WRC3 champion Roope Korhonen.
JWRC champion William Creighton leads Ford’s charge, starting his WRC2 campaign aboard a Fiesta Rally2, while 2022 WRC2 champion Emil Lindholm is the sole Hyundai driver in the field.
Nikolay Gryazin returns in his DG Sport-run Citroën C3, but will not score WRC2 points.
The 2024 JWRC kicks into action in Sweden with a record entry, all aboard Ford Fiesta Rally3s. And this year’s effort is truly international, with 16 nations represented in the field.
Last season’s runner-up Diego Domínguez Jr. returns to the championship, as do Roberto Blach, Tom Rensonnet and Eamonn Kelly.
Bruno Bulacia makes his debut in the junior series after two years competing in WRC2, while 2023 ERC Junior champion Norbert Maior, Jakub Matulka and Mille Johansson all step up from European-level competition.
The four FIA Rally Star graduates also make their much anticipated WRC debuts, and Fabio Schwarz, son of former WRC driver Armin, is stepping up to the world-level as well.
Czechs Jan Černý and Filip Kohn are the only Rally3 competitors solely competing in the WRC3 class.
Rally Sweden Itinerary
Rally Sweden’s 186 miles of action starts with a sprint around the Umeå superspecial stage on Thursday evening.
The main action kicks off on Friday with two loops of three stages which were used last year, separated by a 30 minute flexi service. The first of these is the #42 Brattby test, which has been re-named in honor of the late Craig Breen, who made the stage his own with his driving and legendary stage-end commentary last year. Another blast around the Umeå superspecial will complete Friday’s 67 miles of action.
Saturday is the longest day of the rally at 78 miles, and features the only brand-new stage of the event – the 9.7-mile Vännäs test. Again, the day will consist of two runs of a trio of stages, separated by a midday service, and is rounded off with a run through the Umeå stage, which is an extended version of the superspecial around the town.
Three stages and 38 miles of icy roads await the drivers on Super Sunday. First up is the Västervik test first up, followed by a 15 minute service before the crews get a second crack at Västervik. The end of rally Umeå powerstage brings the action to a close at 12:15 local time.