The rallying stars of the future kick off their 2020 Junior WRC campaign on Rally Sweden, which has a shorter route this year but should still provide a major challenge to the drivers. Pirelli will again exclusively supply the category for the third consecutive year, before the Italian company also begins equipping the top classes of the FIA World Rally Championship from 2021.
The challenge: Rally Sweden is known as the WRC’s only full winter event, but it will have a different look this year with warmer temperatures and less snow than usual falling in the region over recent weeks. Drivers will still be equipped with studded tyres that will bite into icy surfaces and provide grip, but more exposed gravel is also expected. This will be especially true further down the running order where the Junior WRC drivers are.
competitors: A strong field of 16 drivers
will take part in the first round, all driving two-wheel drive Ford Fiesta R2Ts
prepared by M-Sport Poland.
The Junior WRC champion receives a Ford Fiesta R5 and Pirelli tyre package to make the step up in 2021 to the WRC2 and WRC3 classes, where Pirelli is supplying a number of drivers on Rally Sweden.
Pirelli drivers in WRC3 include Oliver Solberg – the teenage son of 2003 world champion Petter Solberg – as well as the double world rallycross champion Johan Kristoffersson.
The product: A single type of tyre is supplied for each category in Sweden. Junior WRC drivers will use the Sottozero Ice WJ, which features 360 studs in each tyre. Pirelli’s WRC2 and WRC3 competitors will be supplied with the Sottozero Ice J1A, with 384 studs in each tyre. Pirelli’s unique vulcanisation process helps to ensure that the studs stay in the tyre even when there is gravel on the stages.
The rules: Junior WRC drivers are allowed to use up to 22 tyres during the event, with WRC2 and WRC3 drivers able to use up to 26 tyres.
The event: The modified route runs from Thursday to Sunday and features 169.74 competitive kilometres across a total of 10 stages, reduced from 18. Friday’s stages, running either side of the border with Norway, will be repeated on Saturday.Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli rally activity manager: “This year, we expect Sweden to be particularly challenging, as the lack of recent snowfall means that there are changes to the route and question marks over the condition of the stages, especially during the second run. Keeping the studs in the tyres is going to be particularly important, which is where the driver can make a big difference. There’s a very exciting field of young drivers contesting the Junior WRC this year, including a number of Scandinavian experts and several Italians, so it’s going to be fascinating to see who comes out on top.”