Arctic Finland race replaces Sweden on WRC calendar

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(Reuters) - Finland will have two rounds on this year's world rally championship calendar with Arctic Rally Finland replacing cancelled Sweden in February as the sole pure winter event, organisers announced on Thursday.

The Feb. 26-28 snow and ice rally, to be based in Rovaniemi, will be round two of 12 and marks the first time the championship has ventured within the Arctic Circle.

The Jyvaskyla-based Rally Finland, taking place on gravel roads, is scheduled for July 29-Aug. 1.

WRC promoter managing director Jona Siebel said in a statement it had been a "tough race against time" to get the Arctic event organised.

"Since it was confirmed in December that Rally Sweden would not take place, we’ve been working hard with AKK Sports, the city of Rovaniemi and the enthusiasts there to try to make this event happen," he said.

Rally Sweden was called off due to tighter restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 season is set to start in Monte Carlo on Jan. 21.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ken Ferris)