WRC round 1 of 13
Thursday 11 February - Sunday 14 February
Official Website: rallysweden.com/
It's been a long time coming, but four months after the 2009 World Rally Championship reached its thrilling conclusion in Wales, the fuse is well and truly lit on the 2010 competition.
On 11 February the WRC ignites again, with one of the most spectacular challenges of the year - the 200kph snow-fest that is Rally Sweden.
Kicking off the 13-round 2010 season, Sweden is the only winter round this year, and makes a welcome return after a year out in 2009, when Norway hosted the WRC's annual snow and ice fixture instead.
Like in 2008, the rally is based from the central Sweden city of Karlstad. Unlike the last edition, however, much of the competitive action has been shifted north around a Service Park 85km away at Hagfors airport. Organisers took this step in an effort to guarantee good snow cover on the gravel roads of the Varmland and Dalarna regions, where the majority of the stages are based.
S-WRC: New Super 2000 championship
The first rally of the FIA's new championship for Super 2000 cars gets underway on 11 February as part of the opening round of the 2010 WRC, Rally Sweden. And with a world class selection of drivers, including four FIA champions, at the wheel of the newest cars in the series, there's a lot of pride at stake in the battle to take the first S-WRC rally win.
Ten rounds of this year's WRC count towards the new S-WRC support championship, and drivers must tackle eight of those ten to be eligible for the title. This year's only winter round of the WRC, Rally Sweden, is the first of the ten rallies and has been nominated by five of the ten drivers registered for the series so far.
Reigning Production Car World Rally Champion Armindo Araujo will begin the defence of his title on Rally Sweden next week, when the Portuguese driver is hoping to find the same form he showed on the 2009 season's winter fixture in Norway.
On that occasion Araujo finished second, losing out by more than two minutes to the Super 2000 Skoda Fabia of Patrik Sandell. This year, however, with the P-WRC competition once again restricted to 'traditional' Group N cars like the Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer, Araujo starts the event as favourite to take victory.
Armed with the latest spec Lancer EvoX - the car he drove to a class win in Rally GB last year - Araujo will go up against six other P-WRC drivers in Sweden who have also nominated the winter rally as the opening round of their 2010 programmes.