GROUP RAL­LY­ING ED­I­TOR “Citroen will be back for a fight in Swe­den”

Motor Sport News - - News Analysis -

For­get Monte Carlo. Citroen will be back in Swe­den. No doubt.

The Ver­sailles team’s dis­ap­point­ing show­ing on round one has hurt Citroen, a sub­stan­tial amount of pride has been wounded. The fight­back starts this week.

And for­get about Kris Meeke’s roll on Sun­day. It was noth­ing. When you get to the level Meeke and his fel­low com­peti­tors are op­er­at­ing at, an ac­ci­dent like that is wa­ter off a duck’s back.

Be­fore the start of the sea­son, the world was wor­ried about Citroen and what it has to of­fer. In the days lead­ing up to round two, those con­cerns have re­turned with the French firm’s ri­vals ad­mit­ting they ex­pect Meeke and his team-mate Craig Breen to hit back hard in Karl­stad. Cer­tainly, the feel­ing is that the car’s ready to show its true worth in the Swedish snow and ice.

And let’s hope that plays out. Monte has given us a glimpse of what’s to come this sea­son and it’s look­ing mighty ex­cit­ing. The lat­est weather con­di­tions are look­ing up for this week, with tem­per­a­tures fall­ing and snow ac­com­pa­ny­ing that tum­bling mer­cury.

If the weather does its thing and we do get con­sis­tent win­ter con­di­tions, we’ll be treated to a real insight into who’s done what with sus­pen­sion and en­gine this sea­son. Swe­den’s a power rally run in the per­fect cli­mate for tur­bocharged en­gines and the of­ten soft and rut­ted roads de­mand sus­pen­sion that of­fers both pre­ci­sion and trac­tion.

And what about Jari-matti Lat­vala? The Finn and his Toy­ota sur­prised ev­ery­body in Monte Carlo. Can he do the same thing again in Swe­den? Karl­stad holds some of the best me­mories of J-ML’S ca­reer and, since 2011, he’s the only driver other than Ogier to win in the snow. And no­body can touch him for ex­pe­ri­ence of these con­di­tions – this will be his 14th start on a WRC win­ter rally.

Per­son­ally, this week’s one of my favourites of the sea­son.

There’s some­thing spe­cial about Swe­den. And Nor­way (where we’ll be on Fri­day). This event pro­vides a unique sense of ad­ven­ture, the like of which the other 12 rounds can’t hope to ri­val.

You can’t, for ex­am­ple, do wheel­ies on a bi­cy­cle with stud­ded tyres in Australia. And nor can you throw a hot cup of tea in the air and watch it freeze in Sar­dinia. You’re un­likely to fall through a frozen river in Por­tu­gal and drop­ping your hire car in a snowy ditch isn’t to be ex­pected in Mex­ico.

All of these are a reg­u­lar fea­ture of round two. And all of them I’ve achieved my­self.

More than any­thing this week, what we need is a good, clean and en­tirely safe sport­ing con­test. If you’re head­ing out there, listen to the mar­shals and fol­low their in­struc­tions. And if you see some­body stand­ing in a dan­ger­ous place, do some­thing about it; vig­i­lan­tism should be alive and well in our world.

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