The World Rally Championship (WRC) is preparing for the second race of the 2022 championship, which takes place in Sweden from February 24th. But, organizers have been forced to cancel two stages in the rally, due to a herd of selfish reindeer that is snacking on the route.
WRC organizers confirmed that two passes through the 12.7 mile leg in Örträsk, Sweden, have been canceled because of the grazing animals, which it says can’t be moved “out of respect.”
Rally Sweden organizers have blamed the blockade on the current weather in the region, which has affected the reindeers’ movements.
It’s this same changeable weather that has forced Rally Sweden to relocate 435 miles further north this year. The event now takes place in the Västerbotten region of the country.
Rally Sweden CEO Glenn Olsson said: “This move reflects a clear acknowledgement of the organizers and the WRC community that there are environmental factors that can affect our access to countryside areas. It’s a fact we must, and do, respect.”
More than 260,000 reindeer live across Sweden, with pastures for the horned beats occupying about a third of the country’s territory. Reindeer herding employs about 2,500 people across Sweden.
The stages were due to run in the morning and again later in the day, as the final daylight stage of the leg. It will not be replaced and a revised itinerary will be issued for the event.
WRC event director Simon Larkin said the decision was disappointing but unavoidable.
“WRC Promoter and the FIA respect Rally Sweden’s decision,” he said.
“The move north to Umeå is a positive step for the rally and we’re confident of a successful event next week and a long-term future in the region.”
Rally Sweden kicks off on February 24th. Sébastien Loeb currently leads the standings, after picking up his 80th WRC win at Rallye Monte Carlo.
If, ahead of the rally, you want to find out more about a strange dialect spoken by many Scandinavian drivers, Adam Ismail has this fascinating blog ready to go.