Eighteen-year-old rally driver Mille Johansson from Sweden will make his debut in the World Rally Championship (WRC) when he competes in the Junior WRC at Rally Sweden in Umeå, from February 15 to 18. Alongside co-driver Johan Grönvall, Mille will make his entry at the highest international level.
”It’s definitely a childhood dream come true. From watching the rally since I was little and dreaming about it, to it now becoming a reality is truly incredible. I’m really excited and looking forward to this,” says Mille Johansson.
”It’s going to be really fun. Rally Sweden is a competition I’ve always wanted to participate in. I’ve also stood by the roadside as a spectator several times when it took place in Värmland, thinking that one day I’ll be standing there on the starting line. So now that it’s finally happening, I’m pumped to the max,” adds Johan Grönvall.
During the previous year, Mille and Johan competed in the Junior European Rally Championship (Junior ERC) in a two-wheel-drive car. As they step up to the JWRC series, they will also debut in a four-wheel-drive car, a Ford Fiesta Rally3. To prepare for the Umeå event, an extensive testing program awaits them in a four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta R5, adapted to simulate the Rally3 car.
”We’re preparing with several tests in a four-wheel-drive car to accumulate as many miles as possible before Rally Sweden, as it will be an entirely new car for me. Transitioning from a two-wheel-drive to a four-wheel-drive is a significant step, and it requires me to feel confident to perform at my best,” says Mille.
The Rally Sweden start is the only planned Junior WRC start for Mille and Johan, who now have the opportunity to showcase themselves to the large audience at home and get a first taste of the WRC.
”We are participating to see where we stand in terms of speed. But we are humble, as it will be our first WRC event and the first time in a four-wheel-drive car,” concludes Mille.
Junior WRC, or JWRC, is a one-make series where all competitors drive identical Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars operated by M-Sport Poland, Ford’s Factory Team. The winner of Junior WRC is rewarded with a start in the following year’s WRC2 championship, the second-highest class in the WRC.
Rally Sweden is Sweden’s largest annual recurring event with over 100,000 spectators over four days and nearly 120 million TV viewers worldwide.