Ice, Ice Baby! By: Red Bull TV
◾FIA World Rally Championship heads for the snowy forests
◾Sébastien Ogier targets further success in spectacular Scandinavia
◾Rally Sweden programmes available on free to air Red Bull TV
◾WRC winner Andreas Mikkelsen is this weekend's guest reporter
◾Press materials available free of charge for editorial use from Red Bull Content Pool
The all-new specification World Rally Cars head for another fresh challenge as the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to the snowy and remote forests of Sweden and Norway for the only true winter round in the series. And, once again, fans can catch all the spectacular sideways action on Red Bull TV.
Skinny tyres equipped with tungsten-tipped steel studs are essential on this weekend's Rally Sweden (9-12 February) and provide remarkable grip as they penetrate the frozen ground. Drivers can often be seen wearing heated racing boots and anti-glare glasses that provide greater definition of the landscape.
The backdrop of the white forests provides a unique spectacle in the World Rally Championship and while a loose surface car set-up is the norm, engineers are forced to find solutions to keep the cars running optimally in these sub-zero temperatures.
Because of its specialised nature, Rally Sweden has been dominated by the Scandinavians during the 63 years it has run, Frenchman Sébastien Loeb becoming the first outsider to claim victory back in 2004. Since then, only Sébastien Ogier has achieved a similar feat.
Underlining his on-going superiority, Ogier won last month's season opener in Monte Carlo on his debut for the M-Sport team – now the four-time champion is aiming to build on that success in Sweden.
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'We had a dream start to the season, but we can't let that distract us. There is still a lot of work to do and Rally Sweden is a truly unique event,' he said.
'It's an event that I really enjoy and we reach incredible speeds on the snow and ice – something that will only increase with the new cars this year. That means that there are no margins for error and you have to be very precise. There are often just a handful of seconds separating each competitor, so every second really does count.
'If we can secure another podium result, it would be a fantastic start and surpass all of our expectations this early in the year. I see no reason why we can't be quietly confident of that, but at the same time it will require a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
'We've not yet seen everyone's true potential, and I'm expecting a very exciting and very close-fought Rally Sweden.'
A selection of royalty-free photographs from all rounds of the WRC is now available for download from the dedicated WRC Media Room on the Red Bull Content Pool website (redbullcontentpool.com/fiawrc). Simply register for full access. Further media assets will be available throughout this weekend's Rally Sweden and thereafter during the following 11 rounds of the globetrotting 2017 series.
Ice to meet you, Andreas
Red Bull TV will be broadcasting from Rally Sweden, round two of the World Rally Championship, with live coverage and special features.
Red Bull TV's guest reporter for this second stop of the championship is none other than Andreas Mikkelsen: a driver who has stood on the podium of this epic winter event twice.
Not only that but the Norwegian has won three world rallies and also finished third in the world championship for the last three years, as well as storming the WRC2 class in Monte-Carlo last month.
The 27-year-old has got looks, talent and intelligence. In fact, he's got pretty much everything apart from a full-time drive, following Volkswagen's shock withdrawal last year. Still, their loss is our gain this weekend. Andreas, reporting in Sweden together with Mike Chen, will bring the unique inside perspective of a modern rally driver to Red Bull TV's coverage. Catch him while you can.
The first dedicated WRC programme on Red Bull TV is at 9pm* on Friday 10 February with further daily highlights broadcast at 9pm* on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Saturday's live coverage starts at 1.50pm*.
All shows will remain available to watch on-demand on Red Bull TV once the rally has finished. Red Bull TV is available to watch entirely free of charge online at redbull.tv and via mobile, laptop or smart television, or on the dedicated Red Bull TV app, available both for iPhone and Android.
* All times stated are for UK audiences