Citroen's Mikko Hirvonen has taken the lead on Rally Sweden following the opening loop this morning.

Hirvonen, who was sixth quickest in the short Karlstad SSS last night, started the day with the third best time in SS2. He was then fourth in SS3, before topping the times in SS4 and SS5, to move ahead of his former Ford team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala. Hirvonen now heads into the 15 minute remote service with a 2.9 second advantage.

"I knew the car would be fast here and I had a really good feeling. Everything went well and I think I can go even faster," said Mikko.

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Latvala meanwhile, who set the joint fastest time in the first stage today and he was second in SS3, was only fifth in SS4 and SS5. The Finn was not happy and admitted he kept making small mistakes in his Ford WRT-run Fiesta RS WRC.

"My decision to start down the order was the right one. Conditions were good but I made several small mistakes which cost about five or six seconds," Latvala confirmed. "Sometimes the rear of the car slid away and that affected my confidence.

"I'm going to try and work on resolving that and increasing the grip. When it happened it broke my rhythm and then I made more mistakes. It's only a small issue but I didn't feel quite as comfortable as I wanted."

Mads Ostberg is next up, 7.4 seconds further back, and after sharing the stage honours in SS2, he went on to post two sixth quickest times in SS3 and SS4, before bouncing back and ending the loop with the second fastest in SS5.

Behind, Sebastien Loeb is now 2.4 seconds adrift of the final podium place and 12.7 seconds off the lead. The Frenchman would have been right in the thick of things and second overall, but for a 10 second penalty.

"We changed the set-up at the last minute and ended up arriving at the control point a minute late," Loeb explained. "We'd be fighting it out for the lead if we hadn't picked up the penalty. The differences in the times are always very small in Sweden and the ten seconds won't be easy to make up [now]. Like Mikko, we played it safe by taking two spare tyres with us [for this loop]." columnist and Ford WRT man, Petter Solberg rounds out the top five, a spin in SS4 costing him around 10 seconds.

"I feel completely in control, and the morning was much better than I expected," said Hollywood. "I didn't think I would adapt to the car quite so quickly in the snow and ice. Without the spin, then I would be inside the top three. It was great to see so many people watching alongside the [Solberg] family farm and hotel [in SS2]."

Further back, overnight leader, Dani Sordo holds sixth in the former works MINI John Cooper Works WRC car, albeit 7.2 seconds off Solberg and over 20 seconds off P1. His best time this morning was a fourth quickest effort in SS4.

M-Sport Ford WRT's Evgeny Novikov is seventh, with the second ex-works MINI of Patrik Sandell eighth.

"Today has been good," Novikov commented. "We're trying to push but some of the stages were a bit more slippery that I had expected and maybe we don't have the best road position. The stages are very very fast but with the roads being so slippery, especially under braking, it's easy to make a mistake. But for sure, we will try to attack in the afternoon."

Henning Solberg and Eyvind Brynildsen round out the top ten in their Fiesta RS WRC cars, ahead of fellow Ford runners Jari Ketomaa and Martin Prokop.

VW Motorsport's Sebastien Ogier is 13th in his Skoda Fabia S2000, with team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen 14th and SWRC leader, P-G Andersson 15th overall in his Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000.

The action now continues this afternoon, with SS6, the 20.17 km Opaker 2 test [SS6], starting at 12.48 hours local time. The day concludes as it finished on Thursday, with a run through the Karlstad SSS.

Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 5 (Top 10):

1. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC 44mins 17.7secs M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 02.9secs M
3. Mads Ostberg Adapta WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 10.3secs
4. Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +00mins 12.7secs M
5. Petter Solberg Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 14.6secs M
6. Dani Sordo Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC +00mins 21.8secs
7. Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford WRT Fiesta RS WRC +00mins 30.5secs M
8. Patrik Sandell Prodrive MINI John Cooper Works WRC +01mins 03.4secs
9. Henning Solberg Go Fast Energy WRT Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 06.1secs
10. Eyvind Brynildsen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 25.0secs


11. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 25.8secs
12. Martin Prokop Czech Ford National Team Fiesta RS WRC +01mins 29.5secs
13. Sebastien Ogier VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +01mins 54.2secs
14. Andreas Mikkelsen VW Motorsport Skoda Fabia S2000 +01mins 57.8secs
15. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 +01mins 59.1secs S
16. Pontus Tidemund Skoda Fabia S2000 +02mins 16.5secs S
17. Armindo Araujo WRC MINI Team Portugal John Cooper Works WRC +02mins 18.1secs M
18. Thierry Neuville Citroen Junior WRT DS3 WRC +02mins 35.6secs
19. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +02mins 40.7secs S
20. Peter Van Merksteijn Van Merksteijn Citroen DS3 WRC +03mins 09.7secs

SWRC standings after Stage 5 - Top 3:

1. P-G Andersson Proton Motorsport Satria Neo S2000 46mins 16.8secs S
2. Pontus Tidemund Skoda Fabia S2000 +00mins 07.4secs S
3. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta S2000 +00mins 41.6secs S

Notable retirements:


all times unofficial