Rally Sweden has been plunged into doubt about whether the event will be able to go ahead as planned due to warmer conditions and rain making road conditions unsafe.
The traditionally all-snow event, which is set to host the second round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship on the 11-14 February, is being monitored closely by rally organisers after higher than average temperatures across Scandinavia has seen ice and snow melt in huge volumes.
It is feared if WRC cars were to thrash on the thawed-out public roads it would cause damage to road surfaces making it unsafe for both competitors and recovery vehicles.
“It's frightening how quickly the weather and the forecasts can change. We had a good layer of ice on our roads and promising forecasts this Friday. Now the situation is significantly changed,” Glenn Olsson, CEO of Rally Sweden, said.
Rally Sweden organisers have spent the past few days keeping a close inspection on the road conditions and route manager Johan Magnusson is fearful is the early running and shakedown could end up 'destroying' the road surfaces if it doesn't re-freeze.
“There is below zero temperatures and even snow in the forecasts for the rally weekend, but the big question is if the roads will re-freeze because we need frozen roads to be able to hold the event,” Magnusson said. “The forecast is for above zero degrees for the recognisance which is planned for Tuesday and Wednesday and the roads risk being destroyed then.”
With safety the paramount concern for the FIA and WRC promoters the route will be fully assessed on Monday [8th February] to see whether any route adjustments will be required.
“It is first and foremost the safety of the competitors and the spectators that decides if a stage is run or not,” Rune Kjernsli, Clerk of the Course, said. “If we find the road dangerous we cannot use it.”
Last weekend the FIA European Rally championship season opener Rally Liepaja in Latvia had to be cancelled a week in advance due to warm conditions defrosting roads and making the rally unsafe to run.