2018 Rally Sweden: Victory for Thierry Neuville, Japanese triumph in WRC2
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul are the winners of the 66th Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship. For the Belgian pair in the #5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC it’s the seventh WRC victory in a career and the first win in some snow rally.
It’s the first win for the Belgians in the 68-year-long history of Rally Sweden and Neuville became only the third non-Scandinavian winner of the event after Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier. The reigning world champion and the winner of the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo had a tough rally at Swedish snow, struggling from beginning to the end and taking tenth place. He also earned four points with second place at Power Stage.
Hyundai Motorsport has two crews on the podium after Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) finished third, behind Craig Breen and Scott Martin (#11 Citroen C3 WRC) in the second place.
Other point scorers in the Top 10 are Mads Ostberg (6th, Citroen), Jari-Matti Latvala (7th, Toyota), Teemu Suninen (8th, Ford), Ott Tanak (9th, Toyota) and Sebastien Ogier (10th, Ford). Elfyn Evans initially finished 10th but he provoked time penalty after the last stage to promote his temmate for one place. Evans dropped to 14th.
Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta finished 11th overall and the winner of the WRC2 category, ahead of last year’s WRC2 champion Pontus Tidemand. The 24-year-old Katsuta is a member of Toyota rally programme and driver Ford Fiesta R5 for Tommi Makinen Racing.
Rally Sweden’s victory promoted Thierry Neuville to the championship lead, with 41 points after two events, ten more than Sebastien Ogier. Latvala and Lappi are tied in the third place with 23 points. Among manufacturers, Hyundai leads with 54 points, one more than Toyota. Citroen collected 46 points, M-Sport Ford has 43 points.
The next round of the World Rally Championship is Rally Mexico from March 8 to March 11.