After many years of unpredictable weather forecasts ahead of the FIA World Rally Championship round in Sweden, organisers have now announced they will be moving the event further north in 2022 to ensure they have snow to run, and Umeå has now been selected as the new host city for Rally Sweden.
The investigation to ensure the future of the rally started already in March 2020, when three new cities Östersund, Umeå and Luleå were selected as candidates as a possible new host. The organisers have been working hard to get the rally to run on snow again and to find a perfect host city which are featuring great hospitality, sporting and commercial conditions.
“A more snow-safe region further north is a basic requirement that is not negotiable in an extension of the WRC agreement and being able to prove historical weather data has been central,” Glenn Olsson, CEO of Rally Sweden, said.
“Umeå’s distinctive strengths, in addition to a stable winter climate, are good hotel capacity in combination with service space and HQ at the Nolia trade fair area, strongly growing business community and an attractive catchment area in terms of audience. Östersund and Luleå also presented strong approaches and above all a great commitment, but on the whole Umeå is a more attractive concept for Rally Sweden,”
Since 1973 the rally has been hosted in the Värmland region around the city of Torsby, but in 2020 the warmer climate forced many stages to be cancelled and a large part of the rally was run on gravel. This season the rally got cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions and got replaced by Arctic Lapland Rally in Finland.
“Of course it is a great sadness to announce today that Rally Sweden is leaving Värmland, but at the same time we must be happy that Sweden still has a competition in the World Rally Championship and that the FIA and WRC Promoter see the potential in Umeå as a new host city. Värmland’s great commitment and know-how has been crucial in this and all officials and enthusiasts who in all years have put in their strength and commitment should today feel proud that we have managed to keep Sweden’s place in the WC, despite all the challenges that have existed over the years,” Olsson, added.
The future for the World Rally Championship looks bright with a steadily growing media interest where Rally Sweden 2020 had as many as 122 million TV viewers globally. Also in Sweden, interest is at its peak, where this year’s broadcasts on SVT from the WRC attracted the most 39% of all Sweden’s TV viewers.
“The winter event is one of the World Rally Championship’s biggest challenges and Sweden has been a cornerstone since the start of the championship,” Simon Larkin, WRC Promoter’s Event Manager, said.
“We have high hopes for both the commercial and sporting development at Rally Sweden in this new chapter with Umeå as host city, we have nothing but praise to give for the hard work put in to bring about this development. Värmland has been a fantastic host for many years and we want to say a “big thank you” to so many people and supporters.”
“Moving north was a must given the challenges we have experienced in recent years and I really want to praise Rally Sweden’s organization for its work in securing a new promising concept based in Umeå for next year’s event. This gives us the opportunity to secure the winter conditions we all dreamed of having at a winter rally,” Yves Matton, Rally Director at FIA, said.
An extended WWC agreement with the WRC Promoter after 2022 is not yet in place as some details remain to be agreed, but the goal from both parties is for the agreement to be signed shortly.