Rally Sweden: Dominant victory and championship lead for Ott Tanak
Ott Tänak wins the 67th Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship. The 31-year-old driver of the #8 Toyota Yaris WRC scored his seventh WRC victory in a career in a dominant way, defeating the closest rival by 53.7 seconds. He shared a podium with Esapekka Lappi (Citroen) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).
Tanak’s victory places him on the top of the championship standings after two events, following his third-place finish at Rallye Monte-Carlo. Ott Tänak now has 47 points, seven more than Thierry Neuville and sixteen more than Sebastien Ogier.
Tanak managed to avoid mistakes and problems at Swedish snow and mud, taking the lead on Saturday morning’s Special Stage 9 and staying in front until the end. Teemu Suninen showed a fantastic performance in the early stages in the #3 Ford Fiesta WRC, leading the rally until SS9 and then stucking on a snow bank on SS10 and dropping to P8. On Saturday afternoon, Suninen damaged a car on SS14 and had to retire.
The other top drivers who had to re-enter the event after stucking in a snow were Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala. For Latvala, it was the record-setting 197th start in the World Rally Championship. The Swedish rally was also marked by a one-off return of the Finnish rally legend and two-time world champion Marcus Gronholm, who was driving a Toyota Yaris WRC.
Sebastien Ogier didn’t score points in the overall standings but he earned at least two points at Power Stage by finishing fourth. Ott Tanak confirmed his domination by winning an additional five points in the last stage, ahead of Thierry Neuville, Elfyn Evans, Seb Ogier and Esapekka Lappi.
In the final classification, the other points scorers in the World Rally Cars are Andreas Mikkelsen (4th, Hyundai), Elfyn Evans (5th, Ford), Kris Meeke (6th, Toyota), Sebastien Loeb (7th, Hyundai), Pontus Tidemand (8th, Ford) and Janne Tuohino (10th, Ford). Ole Christian Veiby finished ninth overall and the best in WRC2 category in the #42 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
The Junior WRC winner in Sweden was Swedish driver Tom Kristensson. He shared a podium with Roland Poom and Jan Solans. All JWRC competitors are driving Ford Fiesta Mk8 R2T cars.
A part of the programme of Rally Sweden was also the Rally Sweden Historic. The former WRC champion Petter Solberg took the victory in a Ford Escort MkII RS 1800, sharing a car with his wife Pernilla as a navigator. Solberg defeated Mats Jonsson in a Mazda 323 GTX by more than a minute.
The next round of the World Rally Championship is Rally Mexico, scheduled for March 7-10.