The 360 studs on the Pirelli Sottozero Ice tyres (above) bite deep and make the driver feel like they’re on asphalt.
The snow and ice of Sweden host the Junior World Rally Championship this weekend – a huge stepping stone to the big time WRC grand stage! Backed by Pirelli, It’s a tough haul with only two drivers having seriously cracked it in the past 15 years.
Mind you, they’re a couple of absolute rippers: Frenchmen nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb and my young mate, six-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, pictured here with the Old Boy.
While there are only five events in the 2019 Junior ranks, they race on the same special stages as the big boys. But more than half the current factory drivers are where they are today courtesy of the Junior series, which is open to drivers aged under 30.
After Sweden the 12 young guns head to wilds of Corsica for the Rally of France – known as the Rally of 10,000 Corners due to the extreme slither of tight turns through the north and south of the island. That’s followed by nearby Sardinia and the gravel and forests of Finland, before the double points finale of the World Rally GB in Wales where mud, fog and slush are often the norm.
As well as the Junior WRC title and a handsome championship trophy, the ’19 winner receives a career-changing prize: a Ford Fiesta R5 with 200 Pirelli tyres ready for 2020!
EDITED by AC