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Mission accomplished for Swedish Mpart team on home WRC event

19th February 2018

For Örebro-based Mpart AB, getting its four R5 specification Mitsubishi Mirages into the top four places of the National 4 Class on Rally Sweden was exactly what the team was hoping for, the result showcasing the cars on the global stage and confirming their inherent reliability. The four-car Mirage charge was led by Anders Karlsson and his co-driver Björn Nilsson, who dominated the event’s National category and recorded a top 30 overall finish in the process.

Rally Sweden is the only ‘winter’ event in the WRC calendar and this year conditions were near-perfect, with freezing temperatures ensuring the surface of the gravel forest roads was coated with a veneer of ice that was subsequently covered with a significant layer of compacted snow. Starting on Thursday evening in Karlstad, the rally got underway with its now traditional spectator stage at the trotting track on the northern outskirts of the town. A further seven stages followed on Friday, eight on Saturday and finally, three on Sunday morning.

All Mpart crews made it through SS1 without issue, but the excitement began on SS2. What started out as a simple spin between the snow banks on Friday’s first stage for Robert Blomberg/Lars Andersson resulted in them getting stuck and unable to move the car. 

Although they waved down the crews that followed to warn them of the obstruction, when teammates Joachim Cartlström/Jörgen Norman arrived on the scene and tried to get two Mitsubishis into a gap the width of one-and-a-half, damage to both cars was inevitable. The broken suspension parts sustained meant that the rest of Friday was off the agenda for both of them but, thanks to the team, they would restart on Saturday, albeit with the consequent time penalties applied for the incompletion of the day’s seven stages. 

For Sune Larsson/Håken Oddshammer in the fourth Mirage, there were no such issues and whilst Karlsson/Nilsson blasted ahead and overcame the intermittent delivery of power due to an issue with the regulation turbo-boost pop-off valve, the two fully-intact Mirages ended the day first and second in the National category. 

Saturday saw the restart of Carlström/Norman and Blomberg/Andersson, who commented that with nothing to gain, they would ease themselves back into the rally; Carström still learning what his newly acquired Mitsubishi was capable of doing and Blomberg who openly admitted that snow is not his chosen surface. 

The day included two runs through the Vargåsen stage that features ‘Colin’s Crest’, where drivers measure their bravery and airborne credentials over the infamous jump. Of the four, it was Larsson who tried the hardest during his second run through the stage and as such, spun into a snow bank after landing. Fortunately, the nearby marshals and spectators extracted his Mitsubishi and without too much time lost, both he and Oddhammer were back on their way.

As it transpired, Carlström’s and Blomberg’s considered approach paid dividends and by the end of Saturday, the Mpart Mirages had locked out the top four positions in the National Category. Consequently, for all four crews the tactic for Sunday’s three stages was one of consolidation and they crossed the finish line at the Torsby service area having held their positions. Whilst competing in Rally Sweden always presents its fair share of challenges, all four of the drivers commented on how much they enjoyed competing in the R5 specification Mirage.

Team quotes

Mpart team owner Tomas Weng: “We have achieved what we set out to over the past few days and that was to get all our four cars and crews to the finish. It was a proud moment to see our Mirages, which are built about 200kms away in Örebro, compete on our home round of the WRC and I am pleased that all have proved to be so reliable. I therefore must congratulate the crews and thank my team for all their hard work.”

Anders Karlsson: “I’m very happy with the result and, when the turbo boost valve was behaving itself, driving the car was fantastic! It’s been a great experience and I know there’s much more speed to come as I get more familiar with the car.”

Sune Larsson: “This is my first event in the Mirage, my first time competing on snow and my first time in Rally Sweden, so there’s been a lot to learn over this last few days. I’ve really enjoyed the experience of my first WRC event and I’m both pleased and relieved to have made it to the finish.”

Joachim Carlström: “This car is new to me and this is my first event with it. I was therefore pleased to be able to restart on Saturday so I could drive as much as possible. It was clear that the more I drive the Mirage the more I was able to find out what it can do. It’s a great car and I’m looking forward to doing more events with it.” 

Robert Blomberg: “I haven’t competed on many snow rallies, but I’ve always wanted to do Rally Sweden. I must admit that the feeling was not so good at times, so after our spin I don’t think I pushed as much as I would do normally. It’s been a great experience and, having not driven the Mirage since Rally Hokkaido in Japan last September, it was fantastic to be back behind the wheel again.”

# 99     Anders Karlsson (Säffle)/Björn Nilsson (Karlstad): 1st Nat 4
#100    Sune Larsson (Hörby)/Håkan Oddshammar (Lund): 2nd Nat 4 
#98      Joachim Carlström (Rockneby)/Jörgen Norman (Torsås): 3rd Nat 4
#97      Robert Blomberg (Trollhättan)/Lars Andersson (Trollhättan): 4th Nat 4


Anders Karlsson/Björn Nilsson 
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Sune Larsson/Håkan Oddshammar
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Joachim Carlström/Jörgen Norman
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Robert Blomberg/Lars Andersson
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