Petter Solberg's Ford on the way to 3rd place last month in Monte Carlo
The factory Ford World Rally Team is testing in Sweden this week ahead of the country's World Rally Championship qualifier from 9-12 February when it will be bidding to extend its run of victories on the Scandinavian snow to six in succession.
Ford drivers have won Rally Sweden on the last five occasions and its driver line-up contains two former event winners. Jari-Matti Latvala triumphed for Ford in 2008, while Petter Solberg was victorious at the wheel of a Subaru Impreza in 2005.
“Looking to the future we know we’ve got a really strong team,” said Ford squad boss Malcolm Wilson. “We have a test before Sweden, and I’m confident we’ll come away with another positive result.”
On Rally Sweden last year, Ford’s all-new Fiesta RS WRC registered a podium lockout with Mikko Hirvonen heading Mads Ostberg and Latvala in second and third respectively. Hirvonen has since left Ford to join rival Citroen and his replacement, Solberg, is on a high heading to the event following his run to third overall on Rallye Monte-Carlo last month.
“You need to have a good start to the season if you want to fight Seb [Loeb],” said Solberg. “I understand the car is even better on gravel and snow, so I’m looking forward to moving onto those surfaces next. To finish [Monte-Carlo] in the top three is the perfect start to the season - I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Now I can concentrate solely on the driving, and I can’t wait to get to Sweden.”
Latvala is due to complete his two-day test in the north of Sweden today (Thursday). Solberg will run on Friday and Saturday.
Ford’s Rally Sweden winners
2011: Mikko Hirvonen (Fiesta RS WRC) 2010: Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Focus RS WRC) 2008: Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Focus RS WRC) 2007: Marcus Gronholm (Ford Focus RS WRC) 2006: Marcus Gronholm (Ford Focus RS WRC)
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