North Rally Boden ’22

North Boden Rally

Just after the festivities, the Swedes sat in cars and ran in the far north

Švedijos vėliava

I was hoping the first record this year would be about the “little Monte-Carlo” in Austria – Jannerrallye. But these times are a little different and for reason known for everyone, the Jannerrally (January Rally translated) will only take place in February. Such is the irony of recent years. On the other hand, then there is an opportunity to look a little elsewhere and also find interesting things. Last weekend, drivers and co-drivers played their games where it is now cold and there is a lot of snow – i.e. In Russia, the mountains of Romania, Norway, and Sweden.

Ralio savaitė
When the cold is minus three tens of degrees, bonfires become not a necessity but a necessity

The Swedes usually have several main championship winter rallies. But Swedes have not been very successful in this respect lately. One winter rally took place in 2020, and the 2021 rally season in the country began when the championships in other countries were coming to an end. So there was nothing to talk about the winter. Here, the Boden Rally was supposed to debut as a championship event last winter, but the pandemic situation in the country put a big bright red “Canceled”. The story is different this year.

M.Jonsson / J.Magnusson - Škoda Octavia WRC
M.Jonsson / J.Magnusson – Škoda Octavia WRC

The North name in the title of the competition is completely legal. Boden is located in the north of Sweden and is very close to the Arctic Circle. In a similar parallel to the Finnish Rovaniemi, around which the famous Arctic Rally Finland competition takes place. The roads there are similar to nature itself. Special stages stretch through immeasurable forest roads where the only signs of some civilization are road signs or high-voltage electricity poles. Everything else is a road, huge snowbanks on the sides, and a forest. Sometimes you can see a frozen lake stretching in an open field. The stages themselves are narrow, with sides that leave absolutely no room for error. In some places, the roads are fast and flowing, in some places they are so twisted – that between the high snowbanks it is very easy to lose the perception of space and twist your hands. The terrain is hilly with very long ascents and descents, occasionally moving into small plains. Corners are often blind and sometimes very long with varying angles. The competition is even more difficult when the cold is -30 degrees. Due to this temperature, snow dust does not settle on the ground when the first car passes. The situation is similar to dry gravel – the first starter has good visibility and the rest have to drive in the dust. In this case – in the snow dust. On the second day of the rally, cars were separated by two minutes, which slightly improved the situation. In other words, a real challenge for both drivers and co-drivers. Losing concentration there is really easy.

M.Wickstrom / L.Nilsson - Ford Fiesta WRC
M.Wickstrom / L.Nilsson – Ford Fiesta WRC

The race lasted for two days – on Friday the crews enjoyed several stages in the dark and the main action took place on Saturday. Stages from 4 to 25 km long. Total mileage 123 kilometers. As this is the event of the Swedish Championship, the participants gathered as appropriate. P.G. Andersson and P. Tidemand. They were joined by a number of other Swedish fast drivers with Rally2 equipment. In total – 14 Rally2 technical units. These were preceded by 2 WRC cars – the antique Škoda Octavia WRC and the Ford Fiesta WRC. Although these cars do not fight for the first places, but it really decorates overall picture. Two-wheel-drive cars include a huge bunch of Volvo’s, Ford Fiesta Rally4 and other models. Among them is four-time Swedish champion Patrik Flodin. He drives Volvo so hard that he finished second in a very serious rally in 2020, overtaking a bunch of R5 cars.

J.Akesson / M.Holmdahl -Škoda Fabia R5
J.Akesson / M.Holmdahl -Škoda Fabia R5

There was no great intrigue about the victory after all. P.G. Andersson won the rallly quite comfortably and laid a solid foundation for the third consecutive champion title. He made great companions with the Ford Fiesta Rally2 car and his compatriots had a hard time catching it. Well, to be honest, no one has been catching it since 2016. For the past five years in Sweden, P.G. won everything he finished. And he finished a lot… P.Tidemand reached the second place in Boden with Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo. After tasting the Rally1 technique in 2019 and taking second place in the WRC2 in 2020, Pontus was missing from the regular rally action, but returned to active driving this year. Pontus from P.G. was a little over a minute behind. J. Akesson with a Ford Fiesta R5 was third behind.

P.Tidemand / M.E. Abrahamsen - Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo
P.Tidemand / M.E. Abrahamsen – Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

Patrik Flodin won in the two-wheel drive category. He has no competiton there. He was 12 in the overall standings, but would probably have been much higher if not for the constantly freezing windshield. In top 3 he was joined by colleagues from Volvo, Nissan Sunny and more modern Rally4 equipment. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the WRC technology – the Ford Fiesta WRC was sixth and the Ocatvia WRC finished at 11 place overall.

P.Flodin / G.Bergsten - Volvo 940
P.Flodin / G.Bergsten – Volvo 940

At least for the main Swedish championship, the winter is over. The next stage will be only in the spring – the famous South Sweden Rally. But there are a bunch of smaller rallies going on at the Swedes, so definitely there will be nice action.

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Photos Anders Blomquist, Fredrik Värnebjörk Photography