M-Sport Surprised Everyone
…including themselves. This was the first rally for Tänak with the Puma in gravel specification. They went into the rally without any real idea of how their pace would be. It turned out that their pace was pretty good. They weren’t the fastest but they were good enough for Tänak to use his ability and experience to craft out an unlikely and very welcomed win. After a grim year in 2022, Malcolm Wilson had cause to smile again – as did everyone else in the team. Loubet had a good rally as well. He did what was expected of him. He drove at a decent pace, avoided major dramas, achieved a decent result, and gained valuable experience.
Hyundai Couldn’t Convert
Hyundai had the fastest car in Sweden but they couldn’t convert that into a win. Still, a good result with a resurgent Breen in second and a slightly unfortunate Neuville (with pre-rally illness, an unfavourable starting position, and a mistake on the power stage) in third. New team boss Cyril Abiteboul gained attention with an unsuccessful attempt trying to swap the positions of Breen and Neuville. It was the right call with the drivers’ championship in mind but it didn’t work out due to Neuville’s mistake on the power stage. Lappi was also on excellent pace and on course for a podium finish. That’s until his tyre delaminated, he went off, and got stuck for 7 minutes, ruining his rally. Bad luck – he deserved much better.
Toyota On Disappointing Pace
Toyota were expected to win this rally quite comfortably but it didn’t work out that way at all. Technical Director Tom Fowler was adamant in refuting any talk of poor pace but that’’s really what it was. Neuville beat Rovanperä fair and square because he was faster, which was surprising. You wouldn’t have seen that in 2022 in a rally like this. Before the rally, there was talk of this being a “litmus test” for Evans. He was on top pace in Monte before his puncture. Would he be on top pace again, meaning that he had overcome his issues with adapting to the Rally1 car? The answer is “no”. He was never on top pace in Sweden and struggled throughout. Katsuta showed good speed before going off and damaging his car. No joy in terms of a good result, though, obviously.