The case for two winter WRC rallies

A successful Arctic Rally Finland raised the question of what the WRC does for 2022. Why not visit the Arctic and Sweden?

Ott Tanak

Dear FIA and WRC Promoter. We’ve solved the problem of Sweden or Finland for next year’s winter rally slot. Seriously, you can have this one on us. Ready? Both.

Yep! Totally staring you in the face. And don’t worry about hoofing another event off the calendar to make way for double the snow. We’ve thought of that as well – or Jari-Matti Latvala has – and the thinking is that 13 is the new 12.

Like it? Thought you would.

Last month’s Arctic Rally Finland was one of the most stunning rounds of the championship in years. Who doesn’t love donning a sweater and diving waist deep into powder while waiting for World Rally Cars to charge by, balancing the equation of oblivion and a stage win on 1536 seven-mil tips of tungsten?

Takamoto Katsuta

Let us answer for you: nobody. Everybody loves it.

Genuinely, back-to-back Arctic Rally Finland and Rally Sweden makes complete sense. We’ve even done the mileage math – it’s 60 miles from Rovaniemi to the Swedish border and only 200 miles from Santa’s hood to Kiruna, the most northerly town in Sweden.

Not that I’m suggesting Kiruna as a base for Rally Sweden – but it is a place that has registered a temperature of 25F. In August.

The plan to take the WRC back to 2007, the last time there were two winter rounds in Norway and Sweden, makes sense for the teams. Snow rallies like these are not hard on the car and there’s less repreparation needed than, for example, between Chile and Argentina a couple of years ago.

And, of course, it makes sense for the drivers, who all love firing a fully-spiked World Rally Car between the snowbanks at 100mph.

Jari-Matti Latvala
In my opinion it’s not a problem to add an event when the events are well planned logistically beforehand Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala on the case for a second winter rally

Lapland winner Ott Tänak was the spokesman for the union of WRC drivers when he expressed the collective view on expanding the number of winter rallies.

The Estonian told DirtFish, with a mask-covered grin: “The more we have, the more fun we have.”

Now, over to Latvala for a team principal’s perspective, and the lowdown from motorsport’s biggest cheese – having spoken to FIA president Jean Todt.

“You are right,” Latvala told DirtFish, “these events don’t stress the cars too much and we – and Pirelli – do a lot of preparation for one rally. It makes sense to do two.

“We have spoken for many years about having two winter events and, in 2007, we did that and it was really exciting. It works on television, it’s very nice. The drivers always enjoy it and it’s spectacular for a spectators – when they can get the access.

“We spoke with Jean Todt about I asked, ‘What is the situation for [Arctic Rally] Finland?’ He said they had to evaluate. When I asked if we could have Rovaniemi as well as Sweden he said we need to have more rallies on the calendar [rather than an event losing its slot].

“In my opinion it’s not a problem to add an event when the events are well planned logistically beforehand. If we had to drive in Sweden one week and then the following weekend we go to Finland we just move the teams and the cars. The most expensive part for the sport is when we go quickly from, let’s say, Sweden and the next event is in Portugal or somewhere far away.

Esapekka Lappi

“If we do these two events, maybe we can do a shorter route like the 250 kilometers [155 miles] we did in Rovaniemi and the same in Sweden – that way we are not putting so many kilometers on the car and the cost is not so much.

“We can also agree that you can test only for one of the events, so you do a test either in Sweden or Finland and that’s all you get for the two events, this would save costs as well.”

Arctic Rally Finland clerk of the course Kai Tarkiainen has already suggested much of the above, so we’re halfway there.

The economies of scale theory was made for the two winter WRC rounds argument. Two rallies, two WRC rounds worth of content and 60 points on offer in just 10 days for a cost falling well below Sweden-squared.

What’s not to love?