RALLY : Sweden

Post Rally Analysis Sweden
Normally, the Swedish Rally is one of my favourite events, but I must admit that this year, I couldn’t wait to get home after a disappointing result for me and Nicky Grist with my Ford Focus WRC RS and the Ford Rallye Sport team. 
It was disappointing in a number of ways. This was one of the rallies we’d targeted to score good points and it looked as though it was going that way until we had the problem on the second day when we shattered a wheel after hitting a rock in the snow. 
It must have been right on the edge in the bank. I didn’t see it and we didn’t slam into the bank, we just touched the bank on the way out. That’s what Kenneth Eriksson reckoned as well and not many people know these roads better than him. 
Until then, it looked as though we could have been third, but that dropped us right down to 14th. We pushed on as best we could and we got a point in the end, although I shall have to have a word with my brother Alister after he beat us on the last stage, although I guess spinning didn’t help. 
Even if things had gone absolutely smoothly, I don’t think we could have beaten the Peugeots this time. I don’t know what the difference is, but some rallies everything clicks, everything works, and obviously Marcus Gronholm and Harri Rovanpera had plenty of confidence. Some of Marcus’s times were just incredible. 
I think the secret to winning here is just having everything right on the day, having the car, the tyres, the confidence. We’ve been very, very near in the past. We just haven’t quite done it. 
I’m not sure that it takes time to adapt if you’re a non-Scandinavian. Generally the rallies up here are very high speed, but I don’t think it’s a problem. 
Whatever the result, it wasn’t much fun to drive this year. It was raining by Saturday and the stages just turn to slush and gravel. It’s a terrible rally to drive in conditions like this. That last stage was horrendous. It’s no fun at all: the car’s jumping in and out of the ruts. It makes it very, very difficult to drive and there’s no security. 
It’s totally different to drive when it gets like that. It’s probably been the most difficult Swedish I’ve done, because you just fight with the car all the time. They’re not nice conditions to drive in and sometimes, you end up backing off to avoid losing the studs from the tyres. 
So far as I’m concerned, they definitely need to move the rally. Last year it was lucky that it was good conditions, but almost every year previous to that it’s been borderline. There have always been problems with tyres. I don’t know what all the other implications are in moving it, but from a driving point of view, if we could do a rally where we’re guaranteed snow and ice. It would be an awful lot nicer than it is now. 
I don’t know if we can read too much into Peugeot’s victory. I think it’s quite clear that they’re going to be very quick, but I don’t think that’s going to come as a surprise. 

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