This weekend, the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship will start in at Torsby in Sweden and it will also mark the first round in the Junior World Championship. As the mild winter has made it to Rally Sweden, they have been forced to shorten the stages for this year’s edition.
In the Junior WRC, there are two local drivers from Sweden who are aiming to take the victory on the home soil; Tom Kristensson and Pontus Lönnström who will be entering in the one-make championship that run the M-Sport Poland built Ford Fiesta R2T19 cars.
Kristensson won the opening-round of JWRC last season in Sweden and is hoping to repeat the result this year.
“The organizers have done a fantastic job, despite the weather, to get to a competition, and it will certainly be great.” Kristensson said.
“There is a lot of discussion about whether it will be icy, gravel or muddy, but the weather and conditions are nothing we can influence, so it is just to like the situation, and nothing that we will put energy on.”
“I’m just extremely happy to be able to run Rally Sweden for the second time, and a new season in JWRC. It will be my last, since I’m getting too old for the class. It has been a couple of months of hard work, but thanks to my good partners it has been secured.”
“We look forward to the season with confidence, I have certainly not been driving on snow and ice since last year’s Rally Sweden, but I have a year’s experience of both the Ford Fiesta R2T, and the team and it provides security.” Kristensson continued.
“Although Joakim is a new co-driver, he has extensive experience in the WRC, and we have done a lot of note training this winter, so the collaboration will certainly work well.”
“Our tactics and goal with Rally Sweden is to keep a good pace and take us to the finish, and of course enjoy it. Even though it is shorter it will be a real challenge, after all, the SS mileage becomes almost like an European competition. Since the rally is the best I know it will be incredibly fun to be on the starting line on Thursday,” Kristensson added.
Lönnström makes his debut in the Junior WRC together with his co-driver Stefan Gustafsson. Lönnström is looking forward to his second Rally Sweden, after driving last year in the national class.
“It feels great that it’s getting started now, there has been a lot of waiting since it was clear last year that we would go to the Junior WRC. Of course, the weather situation is deplorable, but nothing can be done about it. The most important thing is that the competition gets started.” Lönnström said.
“Preparations have gone very well and we have got a good feeling for the competition and we are satisfied with it. We have tested in fairly wintry conditions, so it may not be entirely representative of what the conditions will be during the competition.”
“It will be super fun to get started and get to know everything. We know that there is extremely good resistance in the championship this year and it is impossible to know in advance how we stand against everyone else. No one knows how fast the others are going and it will be interesting to get a receipt for it after the first round.”
“A podium finish is definitely the goal. I am a competitive person and have a hard time taking if I don’t win. But as long as we do everything we can and carry out the competition in a good way, we are satisfied. But if everything works as it should, it will be able to go well too.” Lönnström added.
The local driver Dennis Rådström from Torsby begins this year’s rally season at home in Torsby together with his co-driver Johan Johansson.
Rådström will compete with the team Orsak Rally Sport but will also focus on the FIA Junior ERC in 2020. He visits Sweden hoping to gain experience with the new team and hopefully repeat his victory from 2018 in JWRC.
“We have a good feeling for the competition, which is the absolute highlight of the year at home, it is nice that the competition gets started after all. The stages that will be run are typical Rally Sweden roads, and the shortened competition means that we really have to be on our toes from the start.” Rådström said.
“The lack of snow means that it will be a fast rally, and you probably think of it as a gravel rally rather than a winter rally, to avoid stones that arrive and take care of the tires so that you do not getting a puncture.”
“The goal is to work together with the team during a competition and become family with each other, but we do not stand under the chair because we are here for the WRC competition and should try to be the fastest.”
“We want to show that we are the fastest R2 car, and get started and work and win with the new team.” Rådström added.