Ahead of Round 3 of the 2021 FIA World Rally Championships in Croatia, Hyundai WRT despatched its squad to the Italian coastal city of Sanremo for the 68th edition of this long-standing iconic asphalt rally.
Whilst their competitors such as Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT opted for local pre-event test days in Croatia, Hyundai chose a competitive environment in addition to its preparation. With the aim of not only providing some valuable seat time on Asphalt for a number of its crews but also to gain some further experience of running the Pirelli P-Zero tyres under competition conditions.
Following an open invitation by the event organisers where the COC suggested that WRC teams could simply stop by Estonia on route to Finland ahead of the Arctic Rally Finland (the second round of the FIA World Rally Championships) and use their event, the Otepää Winter Rally (which was the opening round of the Estonian Rally Championship) as a shakedown.
Local Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah was joined by Britains Kris Meeke to contest the Qatar International Rally 2021, the opening round of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship (MERC).
Former WRC driver Meeke had recently taken part in the Dhaka Rally where he competed in the Lightweights for PH-Sport and arrived in Qatar to similar conditions. Finishing the world-famous Daka endurance event last in category, did however prepare him well for the fast desert tracks of Qatar.
The 56th Arctic Lapland Rally became even more of an interest outside of the Finnish national rallying community this year, simply because of the speculation (which later become true in the run-up to the event) surrounding the possibility of an Arctic Rally replacing the cancelled Rallye Sweden in the FIA World Rally Championships calendar.
An Arctic adventure awaits the 120 competitors who face more than 200 kilometres of snowy icy roads and sub-zero temperatures in the wilderness of the Arctic Circle.
The 56th Arctic Lapland Rally 2021 starts on Friday afternoon from the host town of Rovaniemi, Finland; consisting of 3 stages on Friday followed by a further 4 on Saturday in the winter wonderland of Lapland.
Local Finnish news are reporting that the decision on a possible Arctic Winter Rally replacement for Sweden’s slot in the WRC is due to meet its deadline next Wednesday 13th January.
Both budget and the levels of COVID-19 are the considerations here. Reported new cases of COVID remain a constant each day and have not spiked significantly over the past few weeks, but a close eye is to be kept on the numbers.
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Test driver Juho Hanninen will contest the Arctic Lapland Rally (14th-16th Jan) in a works Toyota Yaris. This will enable the team to obtain much valuable data should another Arctic Winter Rally replace Sweden’s empty slot on in the WRC in February or March.