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Temperatures of down to minus 10 degrees centigrade will greet British rally co-driver Phil Hall and a dozen other entrants as the Junior World Rally Championship kicks off at Rally Sweden next week (14th – 17th February).

Thirteen drivers from across the world will gather in Karlstad in central Sweden to embark on the five-round championship designed to vault progressive young rally stars into the top echelons of the World Rally Championship.

Hall, 30 from Mansfield will be joining fellow Brit Tom Williams who is embarking on his second season in the JWRC. Hall has the benefit of a wealth of experience in the category and will start his fourth full season in the World Rally Championship after making his debut at Rally Australia in 2015.

The series will see new model take to the stages thanks to the team behind the Ford World Rally Championship campaign, M-Sport, creating a brand new Ford Fiesta R2 for 2019. The 200 brake horsepower version will be the stable of the championship, each crew in identical Fiestas and all battling for the coveted prize and the first step of the ladder into the WRC2 feeder series.

The backed co-driver is no stranger to the snow and ice which is guaranteed to greet him on the stages this week. In 2016, Hall tackled the Arctic Rally in Lapland alongside Japanese driver Hiroki Arai, guiding him to third overall in the process.

Further experience in the snow came courtesy of the Toyota Gazoo Racing programme, complemented by an outing at Rally Sweden with Williams last season.

Hall feels he is ready for the unique nature of the stages.

“I’ve had the benefit of tackling events from blistering heat in Australia to minus 30 degrees in Lapland so really the week ahead doesn’t phase me too much,” he says.

“Tom and I have been flat out preparing for this season and we have been acclimating to the conditions to ensure we can hit the ground running as it were. We contested the Arctic Lapland Rally a few weeks ago but didn’t quite get as much mileage under our belts as we would like, but from the co-drivers seat I feel as ready as ever for another season in the JWRC”.

Hall knows the opening round of the season will be a tough one for the only British crew in the championship, but believes the new cars will be a leveller.

“Tom and I have worked well together and we have a plan to push on a little more this season. The new cars will only arrive a few days before the event so no-one will have had many opportunities to test them. It will be interesting to see what the times are like after the opening day and it will be my job to try and get a measure of the pace we want to be at for the rest of the rally.

A good start to the season will be important of course so there is a little more pressure than last year, but I find that really helps focus on the task in hand. I’m certainly ready for this one”.

Rally Sweden is packed into 19 special stages, with 315km of competitive driving over packed ice and snow covered roads, spread across four days.

Hall is partnered by and the Royal Air Force in 2019.

Image credit M-Sport/JWRC

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