Welcome to Rally Flashback, where we look back to previous versions of an upcoming event in the WRC. Later this evening Rally Sweden will start with the SSS1 Karlstad shown live, and to shorten the wait take a look at the 2001 version of the rally!
Thick snow and ice were the norm 14 years ago, with high snowbanks along the road. Though the Swedish rally is always threatened by warmer temperatures, we have a lot of snow in 2015 as well! In 2001, Marcus Grönholm was recently crowned World Champion and was the previous winner of this event. The Peugeot 206 WRC was one of the best cars at that point as well, so challenging Grönholm and teammate Harri Rovanperä would be difficult. Tommi Mäkinen had started his season with a win in Monte Carlo, but had to both run first on the road and drive a Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6.5 Group A car. "Harry Potter lookalike" Thomas Rådström were his teammate for this round, and the Swede were also one of the drivers with a win in Sweden. Ford men Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae were both out there to try to be the first non-Scandinavian to win the event, since both had been on the podium here earlier.
But during the first day Marcus Grönholm faced overheating in the Peugeot. His rally was over. Colin McRae took a closer look at a snowback and lost too much time to hope for a podium place. Leading after day one, on "a day with more leader changes than Italy", was Carlos Sainz.
The second day saw Carlos Sainz struggling with being first on the road. He was losing a lot of time to Rovanperä, Rådstrøm and Mäkinen, the latter really pushing to make up for lost time on day 1. Soon they were all ahead of Sainz, with Rovanperä leading just ahead of Mäkinen and Rådström. With snow forecasted for day 3, and less than 15 seconds separating the top 3, this was shaping up to become a battle to remember. Watch it for yourself in the highlights video below.
Also in this rally was Richard Burns, Petter Solberg and Markko Märtin in the Subaru team, now RGT Porsche driver Francois Delecour, Armin Schwarz, Freddy Loix, Didier Auriol, Bruno Thiry, Kenneth Eriksson, Alister McRae, Toni Gardemeister and Henning Solberg. Henning also enters this year, but his former co-driver Ola Fløene has jumped over to Andreas Mikkelsen. Petter Solberg enters this time as well, but that's only in the historical class with his Ford Escort Mk2. With his wife as a codriver he's looking for a third win in a row.