Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has increased his lead on Rally Sweden this afternoon.
Ogier stormed to the fore this morning, winning two of the three stages, to establish a 10.1 second advantage in his Polo R WRC. The Frenchman continued to dominate on the repeat loop too, and was fastest in SS5, Lesjorfors 2, 3.9 seconds up on Mads Ostberg. Ogier then went quickest again in SS6 and SS7, to complete a clean sweep of afternoon stage wins, and he now heads back to Hagfors for service C, with his cushion up to 32.2 seconds.
“It has been an incredible day for us,” Ogier told WRC Live
. “I have a really good feeling. The car was perfect. I am very happy.”
Sebastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile remain locked in a close scrap for second, and while the former slipped back in SS5, he re-took the position in SS7, when his Finnish rival had intercom issues. Loeb now heads Latvala by 1.5 seconds.
Behind, Mads Ostberg has moved up to fourth in his Qatar M-Sport WRT-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car. The Norwegian had a bit of a frustrating morning, with overheating problems in SS2, landing him with a 30-second penalty. However, that was later reduced to 20-seconds and with three second quickest times on the second loop, he has gained ground on the front runners. Indeed he is now just 9.1 seconds off P3 and the final place on the podium.
Evgeny Novikov is fifth in the second Qatar M-Sport WRT, albeit 29.3 seconds back, while Pontus Tidemand continues to shine and is sixth on his WRC debut in a World Rally Car.
Further back, Juho Hanninen is seventh, followed by Thierry Neuville, Henning Solberg and Martin Prokop in positions 8 through to 10.
Like this morning, the stages again took their toll on the field, with Dani Sordo one of the most notable runners to lose time, after an off in SS6, which cost the Spaniard over 4 minutes. Michal Kosciousko and Khalid Al-Qassimi also had offs, but in the first test of the loop, Lesjofors 1. Jari Ketomaa, who had been in P11, is the biggest retirement so far. He was forced out in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC car in SS5.
In WRC2, Anders Grondal remains out front, now 34.2 seconds up on Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Sepp Wiegand is third.
Friday's action now concludes with a run through the 1.90 kilometre Karlstad super special stage, which kicked off proceedings on Thursday night. SS8 is scheduled to start at 19.00 hours [local time].
Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 7 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1h 14m 23.1s
2. Sebastien Loeb
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +32.2s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +33.7s
4. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +42.8s
5. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 12.1s
6. Pontus Tidemand
Ford Fiesta WRC +1m 22.6s
7. Juho Hanninen
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 48.7s
8. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 01.3s
9. Henning Solberg
Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 23.9s
10. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National TeamFord Fiesta RS WRC +4m 39.9s
11. Dani Sordo
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +6m 46.4s
12. Anders Grondal
Subaru Impreza +7m 07.4s
13. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC +7m 41.6s
14. Michal Solowow
Peugeot 207 S2000 +7m 47.3s
15. Sepp Wiegand
Skoda Fabia S2000 +8m 49.3s
17. Matthew Wilson
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +11m 02.9s
22. Michal Kosciousko
Lotos Team WRC MINI John Cooper Works WRC +14m 15.0s
28. Khalid Al-Qassimi
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +18m 04.7s
32. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +25m 54.1s
40. Jarkko Nikara
Prodrive WRC Team MINI John Cooper Works WRC +48m 31.7s
WRC2 standings after Stage 7 (Top 3):
1. Anders Grondal
Subaru Impreza 1h 21m 30.5s
2. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC +34.2s
3. Sepp Wiegand
Skoda Fabia S2000 +1m 41.9s
SS5. Jari Ketomaa
Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
all times unofficial