Next year’s Rally Sweden will be based in the city of Umeå, 439 miles north of former host city Torsby, as the event organizer seeks to guarantee more snowy conditions.
The 2020 iteration of Rally Sweden was one of the warmest in years as several stages had to be canceled due to a lack of snow on the stages.
It prompted FIA president Jean Todt to tell DirtFish after the event: “We will make sure [it will not happen again] and this is something we have been discussing already with the organizers and our promoter that we are going to take measures to ensure continuity with the Swedish Rally, but taking into account this experience.
“I’m sure everybody has learned from this experience. The important thing is that the rally is on and this will not happen again.”
This year’s rally did not take place due to COVID-19 complications banning spectators, but the organizer has been working to secure a new, more northern location for the rally.
Östersund and Luleå were both considered but the consistently cold climate and impressive infrastructure in Umeå means it will be the new home for Rally Sweden.
“A more snow-safe region further north is a basic requirement and being able to provide historical weather data was central to the decision,” said Rally Sweden CEO Glenn Olsson.
“Umeå’s strengths, in addition to a stable winter climate, include good hotel capacity in combination with service park location and HQ at the Nolia trade fair area, a vibrant business community and the potential to attract plenty of fans.
“Östersund and Luleå also presented strong bids and above all a great commitment, but on the whole Umeå is a more attractive concept for Rally Sweden.”
Moving up north was a must, given the challenges we experienced in the last few yearsYves Matton
While the move was a necessary one – particularly given the success of February’s Arctic Rally Finland in Rovaniemi – Olsson admitted it was sad to leave behind Värmland, the area in which Rally Sweden has been based since the inception of the WRC 48 years ago.
“Sweden is one of very few countries that has been involved since 1973 when the World Rally Championship started and Värmland’s great commitment and knowledge have been crucial in this,” Olsson said.
“All officials and other enthusiasts who have put in a lot of effort and commitment over the years should feel proud that we have managed to keep Sweden’s place in the World Championship.
“Despite all the challenges over the years, the FIA and WRC Promoter see the potential in Umeå as a new host city.”
FIA rally director Yves Matton added: “Moving up north was a must, given the challenges we experienced in the last few years.
“I’d like to praise the efforts of the Rally Sweden organizers for coming up with alternatives and securing this promising new base in Umeå for next year’s event.
“It is the chance to ensure the proper winter conditions we all dream about for a snow rally.”
No agreement beyond 2022 has been made between the Rally Sweden organizer, the FIA or WRC Promoter but all parties are understood to be keen to extend Sweden’s contract.
“We have great hopes for the future commercial and sporting development of this new chapter for Rally Sweden in Umeå, and have nothing but praise for the hard work put in to make this happen,” said WRC Promoter events director Simon Larkin.
“Värmland has been such an amazing host for so many years and we say ‘thanks’ to so many people and supporters.”