Next week’s Rally Sweden, round two of the FIA World Rally Championship, sees two firsts for official tyre supplier DMACK as it begins its WRC 2 teams title defence.
The winter event is the first of the season for the Drive DMACK World Rally Team with Finn Jari Ketomaa and Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen scoring points for the champion squad. Ketomaa and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom were WRC 2 runners-up last year in Sweden after a dramatic final stage battle and have their sights firmly set on going one better next week.
Meanwhile Brynildsen and Swedish co-driver Anders Fredriksson are hoping for a little local advantage after tasting success already this season in the Norwegian national championship. They tackle the event, as a one-off appearance for Drive DMACK, in a Ford Fiesta RRC while Ketomaa is piloting a Fiesta R5 – both cars maintained on the event by Autotek.
With Rally Sweden such a specialised challenge, DMACK has been consistently learning each year and will run its new specification studded tyre for the first time. The all-new DMG-ICE retains the same V-style tread pattern, which is so effective in loose snow, but boats a number of structural improvements to deal with frozen gravel and ice.
The new tyre benefits from an evolved stiffer compound, upgraded construction, new-style metal studs and a modified studding system – all with the aim to improve grip and traction on ice and rutted gravel roads. Each tyre boasts 384 metal pins, each protruding 6.5mm, in a bid to bite into the ice and deliver remarkable grip.
The conditions in Sweden are some of the most extreme in the whole championship and those challenges reflect heavily on tyres. Temperatures can regularly dip as low as minus 20 degrees and in recent years the scarcity of snow has meant exposed gravel and rutted roads have ripped studs from the tyres. The high speeds, however, demand precision so drivers must cleverly manage tyre allocations and ensure they have enough studs left to remain competitive.
The event is the only snow rally of the season and opens with a popular blast around Karlstad’s trotting track, which attracts thousands of fans, on Thursday evening. Much of Friday’s action takes place in Norway with a remote service, while Saturday and Sunday stages are based around the service park at Hagfors. Crews will tackle 21 timed stages and 308km of competitive action.
Dick Cormack, DMACK managing director, said: “Rally Sweden is a hugely demanding event for tyres but we took a lot of technical information from last year and have implemented some key performance improvements for this rally. We achieved a huge amount last season and we’ve all been working hard to ensure DMACK remains at the forefront of WRC 2.”
Jari Ketomaa said: “We had a good performance last year on this rally when the conditions were very tough and I’ve been working with DMACK on some specific improvements to the tyre for this year. I’m looking forward to the rally and glad to be back helping DMACK to achieve hopefully even more success in 2015.”
Eyvind Brynildsen said: “Rally Sweden is a key event for me and we certainly go there aiming to fight for a win. We’ve already completed some snow rallies this season and have another 150km with a rally in Norway this weekend. This is my home round of the WRC so I’m hoping for some local support as it’s going to be a big fight with other drivers like Pontus Tidemand and Jari Ketomaa.”