Ford World Rally Team man Jari-Matti Latvala topped the times this morning in Sweden in the very first WRC qualifying stage.

Latvala was over half a second up on his former team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen, completing the 3.99 kilometre test in 1 minute 53.516 seconds. He will now get first pick of start position for tomorrow's opening leg.

"I had no problem in the stage at all," Latvala told the official WRC site. "Maybe on one corner I was a little bit slower after I saw some rocks and went around them, but otherwise it was the perfect time for me.

"I am happy with the time I set and the position I am in, but certainly there is a lot to be thinking about before we decide what place we take. We have to think about the weather and a few other factors: it's not so straightforward."

Further back, Ott Tanak came in third, only fractionally slower than Hirvonen, and running for the Go Fast Energy World Rally Team on this event after Matt Wilson had to pull out following a training injury.

Evgeny Novikov and Crash.net columnist Petter Solberg round out the top five, giving Ford a 1-3-4-5 sweep.

Sebastien Loeb had to settle for sixth, ahead of Mads Ostberg, Eyvind Brynildsen and Patrik Sandell in positions 7 through to 9, the latter the lead MINI. Martin Prokop completes the top ten.

Rally Sweden now continues this evening, with SS1, the short 1.90 km Karlstad SSS, kicking off proceedings at 20.04 hours local time. The action begins 'proper' on Friday.

Rally Sweden: Qualifying stage (Top 12):

1. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1min 53.516s M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1min 54.084secs M
3. Ott Tanak Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1min 54.089secs M
4. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1min 54.131secs M
5. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1min 54.384secs M
6. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 1min 54.727secs M
7. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1min 54.877secs M
8. Eyvind Brynildsen Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1min 55.729 secs
9. Patrik Sandell Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC 1min 56.317secs
10. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC 1min 56.723secs
11. Dani Sordo Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC 1min 56.724secs
12. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC 1min 56.758secs M

all times unofficial