Ostberg leads in Sweden

M-Sport Stobart Ford man Mads Ostberg leads in Sweden going into the mid-day service halt, 24.8 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen.

M-Sport Stobart Ford man Mads Ostberg has taken the lead on Rally Sweden this morning following the first three 'proper' tests.

Ostberg, who was sixth quickest in the short Karlstad SSS last night, grabbed the lead immediately today, when he set the pace in SS2, the 24.63 kilometre-run through Vargåsen 1. The Norwegian then extended his lead in SS3, when he was second quickest, before finishing the loop as he had started it, with another quickest time. He now goes into Service B in Hagfors with a 24.8 second cushion over his nearest rival.

"This is fantastic!" Ostberg said. "I'm feeling very good and I am confident driving this car. I trust the pace notes, I trust my co-driver and most of all I trust the fantastic car that I am driving. I really pushed in the first stage but since then I've not been taking any risks but everything has just been going better and better for us.

"For sure, I've been able to take advantage of my good road position but I think if we continue to follow the lines and keep the same set-up it will be a good afternoon. We will run with two spares this afternoon, just as a precaution, but we have really been enjoying ourselves out on the stages this morning.”

Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile is 'best of the rest', despite only having been second in SS2 and fourth in SS3 and SS4: "My start position helped but conditions are still incredibly difficult," noted the Ford Abu Dhabi WRT #1. "Everything worked perfectly and the handling was great, but trying to learn a new car in such difficult weather isn't easy. I had a few close escapes and came close to spinning in slow corners on several occasions. Perhaps I was too cautious in places as a result, but I made no mistakes and that's important."

Petter Solberg completes the top-three, albeit more than 30 seconds further back in his privately entered Citroen DS3 WRC: “It is so very difficult, the conditions change all the time. It was fun to drive a short bit into Norway and I can tell you we made a good show for the spectators,” continued 'Hollywood', who was later handed a ten second penalty for being late at the time control after the mid-day service.

Next up is Jari-Matti Latvala, 24.2 seconds off the final place on the podium after he spun in SS4 and lost more than 20 seconds: “I knew it was going to be tough because there was so much loose snow and so little grip,” Latvala explained. “It made the roads narrower than on the recce and I touched the snow banks in many corners. I had a big spin about 7km after the start in Løvhaugen which removed the rear spoiler.

“After a crest the car touched a snow bank and spun through more than 360º. I kept the revs high and fortunately we didn't get stuck, but I was lucky. Because the car is so short it moves around quickly, and I have to react much faster than I needed to with the Ford Focus last season.”

Patrik Sandell rounds out the top five after an impressive performance in his Skoda Fabia S2000, followed by M-Sport Stobart man, Henning Solberg and fellow Fabia S2000 runner, Eyvind Brynildsen. Sebastien Ogier heads the 'works' Citroens, 11.7 seconds up on his team-mate, Sebastien Loeb, who lost time running first in the order.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Petter Solberg (NOR) Chris Patterson (GBR), Citroen DS3 WRC, Petter Solberg Rallying
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), Ford Fiesta RS WRC,  BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Jonas Andersson (SUE), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Jonas Andersson (SUE), Ford Fiesta RS WRC, M-Sport Stobart Ford World Rally Team

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Chris - Unregistered

February 11, 2011 12:27 PM

Looks like Ford have the Fester sorted and everyone making a good fist of it except for one... 19th place, 8th Fiesta, behind two S2000 Skodas, behind two Production Subaru, over 4mins off the lead after 3 proper stages. Is Hapless serious? He was the first to test the car, bundles of further testing. Seriously, what a useless @rse wipe.

Observer - Unregistered

February 11, 2011 3:02 PM

@peter Your point of us trying to do Matts job is exactly why people always criticize him. Not that we could do his job as most of us probably don't deserve the chance any more than he does. There are however many drivers out there who do deserve the chance more than Matt does. He's had years worth of chances on a stobart ford whereas the likes of Ostberg, Andersson, Mikkelsen, Meeke and Hanninen either haven't had a chance or have had to get massive amounts of sponsor money to get even one shot. Granted Meeke now has his chance with Mini and if VW go rallying in the near future Hanninen has a good chance then. Ostberg was given this one chance with stobart and look how he's using it. As for the results. Isn't great to see privateers doing so well? It may be because of the road conditions, but this might lead to an interesting first half of the season if customer cars are this competitive on other surfaces as well. Though I think the works teams will get further ahead during the seas

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