Round 2 - and we're still in winter mode. This time, in the forests of Varmland for what was our rendition of the 'what should have been' Rally Sweden - which in real life was sadly cancelled due to the pandemic.
With one of Sweden's most famous stages gracing the DiRT Rally 2.0 game, the drivers would take on an 18 stage rendition of the Rally Sweden using the Vargasen complex, which includes the world famous 'Colin's Crest'.
R5 Pro category.
Jon Terje Houmsmoen (Scandi Flick Racing) took an early lead, with a short exchange in positions with Ivo Herrera (IRON Mustangs Alpha) on the second stage - SS3 onward was captained by Houmsmoen all the way, with consistent positions on all stages, and 6 individual stage wins. Despite Ivo Herrera winning the majority of stages (12), he was still unable to cut the deficit to Houmsmoen with the brief excursion Herrara took on stage 4, dropping only 20 seconds. Herrera's comback was something to behold however, as Herrera's charge following stage 4 had brought him to missing out on the rally win by a narrow 1.9 seconds behind Houmsmoen! The battle for third resonated for most of the rally, with Siim Podra heading the battle for much of the rally. That was until drama on stage 16 had sent the Estonian Stage Fright Rally Team driver back to 8th having lost more than half a minute. This left third place open to Gaspar Zanini of HK Motorsport, with a 16 second cushion to the cars behind him, brought it home in third place, HK Motorsport's first driver on the podium in CA Sim Rally Leagues.
For the championship standings however, this means Houmsmoen does claw back a lot of lost points from Monte-Carlo, getting himself to third in the standings. But, it is Ivo Herrera who breaks into the lead of the championship by 8 points above Crest Autosport's Miika Salonen.
R5 Am category.
The Stage Fright Rally Team's disappointment of Siim Podra missing out on the podium in the Pro category was more than made up by members of the rest of their large roster. As Mart Ioan Valeriu, brought his Ford Fiesta R5 home in 1st place in category by over three-quarters of a minute over IRON Mustang's Lebanese driver Maroun Mezher. Valeriu had shot back into the lead of the rally upon completion of stage 13, leading and extending from then on. Valeriu was kept honest throughout the rally as Crest Autosport's Kevin Edwards fought valiantly until the latter part of the final leg, where drama had hit Kevin hard by dropping to 4th and near on 2 minutes, on the final stage of the rally. Maroun Mezher will probably feel there was an opportunity missed in this rally - despite steadily dropping from the leader throughout the second leg, Maroun took a convincing lead in the rally during the opening leg to as far as 30 seconds. Third place glories eventually went to South West Rally Crew driver Nick Score - as consistent and convincing times in the second leg saw him hover near the top 3 throughout much of the rally, having taken third past the straggling Kevin Edwards on the final stage.
despite Kevin Edwards demise in the final stage, his wealthy amount of points thus far in this early part of the season has seen him leap into the lead of the championship by 5 points above Sweden rally winning Mart Ioan Valeriu. Monte-Carlo winner Sebastien Zob had a disappointing rally in Sweden, but had still managed to score enough to keep him in third, only 10 points off top spot.
R2 Pro category.
We move on to the R2 category, where to cut the long story short - the rally was near dominated by Przemek Rudzki of Simracing Team Poland - taking 9 stage wins, and leading the rally from stage 2 onward to the end. Rudzki was kept honest however, as Ewan Tindall of Ewan Tindall Rallying was constantly hounding in second place. Eventually the gap between 1st and 2nd was 30 seconds. Ryan Wainwright was the talk of the grid however, as he was originally placed into the Am category for his displays in the qualifying rounds during pre-season - but, these early performances by the privateer in this early part of the season has seen him get promoted to the Pro category - and even still, he earnt a third place in the Rally Sweden less than a minute behind leader and winner Rudzki.
Rudzki has scored 50+ points in both rounds so far, deserving him the championship lead by a 22 point cushion above his Rally Sweden rival Ewan Tindall. EXR Rally's Vince Bartók has not acquired any trophies yet from rallies, but his consistent line of results thus far, has earnt him third in the championship.
R2 Am category.
The opening leg for the Am category was very much a section of the rally where positions swapped and changed almost constantly, and drivers establishing their pace early on. The one driver who kept themselves in that battle was Dmitry Sapelko, who eventually broke through into the lead in the second leg, comfortably taking the win. A three way battle between Radek Borek of Simracing Team Poland and Mikko Widberg of MW-Sport had raged on throughout the opening leg. It was Mikko however who was first to fall out of contension, as he dropped half a minute on the 5th stage. Miiko clawed back towards the top two runners as the second leg raged on, rejoining the battles in the middle section of leg 2, but, the latter stages of the rally, Mikko had slipped away from the leaders, managing third in end. Radek Borek had brought the fight to Sapelko for much of the rally, but it was Sapelko's big push on the final part of the rally that had eventually defined Borek's second place. An honourable mention needs to go to Artur Konaszewski, as the polish driver had managed to lead much of the rally - that was until drama had struck on the 13th stage, a DNF for him after what was a promising performance.
The celebrations for Simracing Team Poland had not stopped with the above mentioned Rudzki win in the Pro category, and championship lead - as, second place in the Am category for the rally, Radek Borek, takes the championship lead following this second round of the long championship. But it is still Daniel Charles Elliott in second position after another decent points scoring round, and Kenya's Gurraj Ghaley of Crest Autosport, leaps into third place.
In early March, we travel across the atlantic for the first non-wrc rendition of the season. Our take on the 100 Acre Wood Rally is round 3 of the championship, where the forests of New England will host our Rally America.
We will see you then!