Milan, February 18, 2018. Pirelli has won the WRC2 category on Rally Sweden, one of the most specialised and complex events of the year, on only the second event of the Italian company’s return to the World Rally Championship. Sweden also marked the first event of this year’s Junior World Rally Championship, of which Pirelli is sole supplier.
Japanese protégé takes remarkable debut WRC2 win. Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta – a member of Toyota’s WRC driver development programme – took a brilliant debut WRC2 win on his first Rally Sweden with Pirelli tyres, driving a Ford Fiesta R5 run by Tommi Makinen Racing. Katsuta took the lead on SS2 and won nine out of 19 stages, underlining the superiority of the Italian tyres, which took 13 WRC2 stage wins in total from a possible 19.
Radstrom nets popular home Junior victory. Local driver Dennis Radstrom, who actually lives in Torsby where Rally Sweden is based, won the Junior category – exclusively supplied by Pirelli – after an intense battle with Pirelli’s former ERC Junior champion Emil Bergqvist over all four days. Starting the final day in Sweden just 13.8 seconds ahead, Radstrom eventually won by 7.3 seconds, while Germany’s Julius Tannert was third.
World Rallycross Champion stars with Pirelli. Reigning World Rallycross champion Johan Kristofferson chose Pirelli for a rare rally outing in a Skoda Fabia R5 – and he was one of the stars of his home rally. Despite his lack of experience, Kristofferson showed stage-winning pace before eventually claiming a fine sixth position in WRC2 against a number of experts.
History repeats itself with Solberg. Pirelli’s 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg claimed another class win in the historic section of Rally Sweden on Pirelli Sottozero WJ tyres. The Norwegian – whose 16-year-old son Oliver is also supported by Pirelli – was piloting his own Ford Escort MkII, co-driven by his wife Pernilla.
Grazie Sottozero. Pirelli took its latest generation Sottozero tyres to Rally Sweden: complete with long studs, which are locked into the tread with a patented process. These are designed to bite through the snow and ice – much in evidence this year – to find grip on the firmer surface below. One of the keys to Pirelli’s strong performance was the ability of the tyres to retain their studs even following heavy use on rougher stages.
Terenzio Testoni, Pirelli rally activity manager. “We’re very pleased with these results on Rally Sweden, both in WRC2 – where the majority of cars chose our tyres – and in the Juniors. Our new Sottozero WJ design for the Juniors worked extremely well, as did the Sottozero Ice J1 we brought for the WRC2 cars, helping young drivers to make their mark in both categories. Conditions were extremely varied, with plenty of snow and ice during the first runs through the stages, which our studded tyres were able to penetrate very effectively, providing optimal traction and braking. During the second runs there was a lot of frozen gravel, where the stud retention capabilities of the Sottozero came into their own.”
What’s next? The Junior World Rally Championship resumes on the asphalt of Corsica from April 5-8, while the next round of the World Rally Championship is in Mexico from March 8-11.