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.