Last year’s event was lost to COVID-19, the year before came the rain. The answer? Head north. Move to Umeå. That decision, we were sure, would fix all of Rally Sweden’s ills.
Then came the reindeer. Or more pertinently, the reindeer farmers. Apparently, there are one or two agriculturally minded folk along the route who aren’t so keen on seeing Thierry Neuville and his mates rattling along their roads in a couple of months.
Rally Sweden director Glenn Olsson told DirtFish: “We are having some issues with the route. We don’t yet have permissions for 100% of the stages on the route. It’s definitely not just reindeer farmers, we’re dealing with a new group of people, new landowners in a different area with different roads.
“We have new relationships all over the place. We will get the route sorted, we might have to make some changes, but we’re doing this work [in conjunction] with the FIA and the WRC Promoter.
“Right now we’re dealing with local issues, working with local councils and legal departments. We know we’re late, but we’re confident we will get this sorted.”
Both the FIA and WRC Promoter were present looking at the route and working with Olsson this week.
There is far more leniency in the route planning liaison between event organizers and the FIA. In previous years, events have had to place their planned route with the governing body six months ahead of the start date.
COVID-19 has forced a change in that thinking – the last round of this year’s series, Monza Rally, was put together in its entirety in less than two months.
The FIA will be making a safety recce of the Rally Sweden route in the coming weeks – DirtFish understands this could be early January – and that’s when permissions for the event have to be in place.
Talk of a potential return to Arctic Rally Finland is thought wide of the mark. In the unlikely event of Olsson failing to get a workable round two route, sources suggest Finnish organizers would be left with insufficient time to put a rally on.