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Ogier best in Rally Sweden qualifying
7 February 2013
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier was fastest this morning in the qualifying stage for Rally Sweden, the second round in the 2013 World Rally Championship.
Ogier completed the 3.99 kilometre Rada test in 1 minute 51.357 seconds, which put him 0.9 seconds up on Mads Ostberg, who was 'best of the rest' in his Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Ogier will now get first choice of start position for Friday's opening day.
“A good start to Rally Sweden,” Ogier remarked. “I am extremely happy, as that was an ideal drive in qualifying. The car set-up is also right, so we will not have to make any major changes there.
“It is important to get the right tactic when selecting your starting position here in Sweden. As the top car in qualifying, I now have a free choice, which gives me a small advantage. My goal [though] remains a place on the podium. I really like the Rally Sweden: drifting through icy corners at over 150 kilometres per hour is huge fun. However, it also means the rally is anything but a stroll in the park.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile was third for Citroen, 0.664s slower in his DS3 WRC, while Pontus Tidemand and Juho Hanninen took fourth and fifth in their Ford Fiestas.
“The main thing was to be among the leaders so you can choose a good starting position,” Hirvonen said. “I think it will be a very open rally, our rivals look sharp! I have the impression that there is a bit more ice than last year, but less snow.
“It will be complicated because the fresh snow can hide rocks and you need to avoid picking up punctures. Everything is looking good for us, I feel confident and ready for the fight.”
Behind, Jari-Matti Latvala, who was quickest in free practice, took sixth, 2.705s slower than his team-mate, followed by Thierry Neuville, Sebastien Loeb, Evgeny Novikov and Dani Sordo in positions 7 through to 10.
“I am very happy with the way the free practice and qualifying panned out,” said Latvala. “I had a good feeling with the way the car was handling. Apart from one short moment, it was a really good qualifying for me. The motor died briefly at the start, but after that I got through the stage cleanly. As such, I was surprised how good the time was in the end.
“I expect consistent conditions on the special stages, with a lot of the surface being ice. In that situation, it is important not to have to open the stage, as loose snow on the ice could ultimately cost you time.”
“It's not a great result,” Loeb conceded, “and it'll undoubtedly leave us with very little choice when it comes to selecting our starting position. But in any case, this rally is a challenge for me. I came here to compete precisely because it's not easy! The conditions seem okay to me; it has snowed a lot since the start of recce. If it gets a lot colder, it should be perfect.”
Drivers will now select their start positions this evening, 60 minutes or so before the first test, the short Karlstad super special, which will start at 20.04 hours local time [19.04 hours UK time]. The action then gets underway 'proper' on Friday, with SS2, Lesjofors 1, due to start at 08.39 hours local time [07.39 hours UK time].
Rally Sweden: Qualifying stage:
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1m 51.357s M
2. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0.900s M
3. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +1.564s M
4. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta WRC +2.448s
5. Juho Hanninen Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2.561s
6. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +2.705s M
7. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3.038s T
8. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +3.468s M
9. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4.193s M
10. Dani Sordo Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +4.787s
11. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National TeamFord Fiesta RS WRC +5.714s T
12. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6.197s
13. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6.724s
14. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +6.830s T
15. Matthew Wilson Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10.181s
16. Michal Kosciousko Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +10.305s T
all times unofficial