WRC: Ogier fastest at a shortened first day of Rally Sweden
Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport) is the overnight leader after the first day of Rally Sweden, the second round of World Rally Championship. The reigning world champion controlled the race during the shortened first leg of Swedish WRC round, on which six of the predicted nine stages were held. Ogier has 26.9s advantage ahead of the second placed Hayden Paddon (Hyundai Motorsport) and 33.7s ahead of the third placed Mads Ostberg (M-Sport Ford).
Competitive distance was cut from 331 to 241 km
The itinerary of the race was shortened because the melting snow and ice turned some roads into muddy gravel. Rally Sweden is the only winter rally in the championship and studded tyres are compulsory, so on the roads without snow it was impossible to drive.
Organizers reduced the route from 21 scheduled stages to thirteen and the competitive distance was cut from 331 to 241 km. The pre-event shakedown near the rally base in Karlstad has been cancelled, along with Thursday night’s traditional super special, so the first competitive test was SS2 Torsby in Friday morning. Friday’s schedule consisted of two loops with three stages, total of 118 km.
Ogier hit a tree and won a stage
Sebastien Ogier won all three stages of the morning to build a comfortable 24.2sec lead ahead Andreas Mikkelsen. The advantage was big, but could have been even bigger if Ogier hadn’t hit a tree in the final morning’s special stage and damaged his Volkswagen Polo. The damage wasn’t dangerous and the world champion continued the race, after repaired the steering arm.
“There was a big, big water splash which I didn’t have in my pace notes. The organisers warned us about a bump but I couldn’t turn after it and went into the trees,” Ogier said.
Latvala and Neuville dropped down with technical problems
Ogier’s team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen went off at the same point but survived without damage. Third Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala suffered from technical problems. Broken driveshaft on Polo cost him lots of time at Stages 3 and 4, so he was four minutes behind Ogier after morning’s loop. Thierry Neuville had a good start and he was third after Stage 3, but a transmission problem in Svullrya cost him almost 80sec.
Problems continued in the afternoon, both for Latvala and Neuville, because there was no service between the loops. At the end of the last stage Neuville was more than six minutes behind Ogier, while Latvala completely stopped and retired at Stage 9.
Two stage wins for Paddon
Kris Meeke was third fastest after three morning stages, but the victory at Stage 7 and Mikkelsen’s hit-a-tree accident on the same stage promoted him to second. Not for long, because at Stage 8 Meeke stopped with damaged DS3 WRC, after he hit a rock hidden under the fresh snow.
Hyundai’s New Zealander Hayden Paddon took the Stage 8 win and jumped to second place, just 0.1s ahead of Mads Ostberg. Ott Tanak, Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikklesen were few seconds behind, so we had five drivers in the battle for second place. On the last Friday’s stage Paddon was the fastest again and he confirmed second place. Ostberg, Mikkelsen and Tanak had identical times, with Sordo 0.1s faster than them, so Top 6 positions remained unchanged.
You can find the complete results at SnapLap result pages.