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