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AS winter temperatures “soar” above zero, Rally Sweden has avoided cancellation by setting a shortened route for this week’s second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Melting snow and ice plus rain threatened the season’s only pure winter rally as frozen roads turned to soft, muddy gravel. Studded tyres are compulsory in the recce and the rally, but the thaw prompted fears the spikes would damage the roads and make them unusable.

However, organisers submitted a revised route to teams with the 21 scheduled stages reduced to 13 and the competitive distance cut from 331.21km to 241.48km.

While temperatures in the rally region were hovering at 4˚C, colder weather is forecast later in the week. Overnight temperatures are set to plunge to -11˚C around Hagfors, where much of the action is based, and organisers are hopeful further cuts will not be required.

The recce will be delayed by 24 hours until Wednesday and Thursday. The pre-event shakedown test near the rally base in Karlstad has been cancelled, along with Thursday night’s traditional opening super special stage at the town’s trotting track.

Much of Friday’s action is based across the border in Norway, but the double run through Kirkenaer has been axed, leaving six stages covering 118.36km.

Saturday morning’s Rämmen stage has been cancelled but will run in the afternoon, Fredriksberg will be driven in the morning but not in the afternoon and the short Hagfors Sprint stage has been scrapped.

However, both passes through Vargåsen, featuring the famous Colin’s Crest jump, will take place and will be broadcast on live TV, along with Karlstad’s evening super special stage.

Sunday will now comprise just a single pass through Lesjöfors and the live TV Värmullsåsen Power Stage.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.