When Malcolm Wilson speaks, it’s always worth listening. Especially when he’s talking about Rally Sweden. And especially, especially, when he’s talking to all 16 Junior World Rally Championship contenders.
Wilson, you see, knows a thing or two about driving quickly on Rally Sweden (admittedly, it was known as the Swedish Rally, back then). In 1993, he led from the start of the event in his Michelin Pilot-liveried Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
Colin McRae, Juha Kankkunen, Hannu Mikkola? Wilson dropped them all behind with a scorching start. Unfortunately a misheard note was enough for the Escort to rocket off the road at high speed. His dream of a WRC win in the snow was done.
That was Wilson’s fifth and final start in Sweden. In that time, he learned plenty about driving this event in all its conditions.
Which is why he’s urged the Junior WRC runners – all in Ford Fiesta R2Ts prepared by his M-Sport firm – not to get sidetracked by the lack of snowbanks and gravel on the road before them.
“The conditions are what they are,” Wilson told DirtFish. “It’s really important that they just get their head down and get on with it. These cars have been through rallies as rough as Sardinia, so they don’t need to worry about the conditions this week.
“What this is is a different kind of challenge and we’ll see who’s able to adapt best in these marginalized conditions.
The ability to do that and not get sidetracked with the minutiae says a lot about a driver.”
Last year’s JWRC runner up, Swede Tom Kristensson, heads a 16-strong entry for the Junior opener.
Mads Østberg looks to build on his perfect WRC 2 start aboard his Citroën C3 R5 while the battle for WRC 3 will be one of the most intense of the season with the likes of two-time World Rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson (Volkswagen Polo R5) lining up against Jari Huttunen (Hyundai i20 R5) and Eerik Pietarinen’s Škoda Fabia R5 evo.
Also making his debut in a Škoda will be Oliver Solberg, son of 2005 Rally Sweden winner Petter.
Keep an eye on DirtFish.com plus our social media channels for the fastest and most comprehensive Rally Sweden coverage this weekend.
We’ll have a report after every stage, all the news from the service park, on-the-scene conditions updates from Wednesday morning and regular video insight and interviews from Colin Clark and David Evans.
Then check back on Monday for David Evans’ unrivaled in-depth analysis of how the rally was won, our ‘things we learned’ rundown of the biggest talking points, the best pictures of the weekend (and some of the quirkiest from behind the scenes) and our new driver ratings feature.