6 February 2014
Rally Sweden: Ogier moves into lead
Sebastien Ogier completes SS4 with a 1.6 second lead over Andreas Mikkelsen; Jari-Matti Latvala makes it a VW 1-2-3, 4.5 seconds further back in P3; Ott Tanak and Mikko Hirvonen are 'best of the rest' in fourth and fifth...
Sebastien Ogier has taken the lead on Rally Sweden this morning with Volkswagen locking out the top-three places.
Ogier, who was second quickest in the short 1.90 km Karlstad super special last night, 0.8 seconds behind team-mate and Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen, moved to the fore in the very first 'proper' test, when he set the quickest time in Torsby 1. The Frenchman then extended his advantage to 8.7 seconds in SS3, before Mikkelsen fought back in SS4 reducing the gap to 1.6 seconds ahead of the mid-day re-group. There is no service until the end of the day.
“Not a perfect drive [in SS1] but an okay start,” Ogier said, “no mistakes - I could have pushed a little bit more.
“It was hard to estimate the speed in the next test [SS2], but it was an enjoyable stage. SS3 was really nice [too] - great conditions, really fast. I liked this one. Maybe a bit looser snow towards the end. We're pushing quite hard.”
Jari-Matti Latvala meanwhile is third, 6.1 seconds off Ogier and 4.5 seconds adrift of Mikkelsen in the other Polo R WRC: “When it's fast and flowing it is great to drive,” Latvala remarked after SS4, “[but] on the technical ones where it is tight and twisty it I am not doing so well. Still many stages to go!!”
Ott Tanak lies fourth and is 'best of the rest' in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car, impressively posting the second best time in SS2 and two fourth quickest efforts in SS3 and SS4. It is his first WRC event in more than a year.
“This morning has gone really well for us. The car is absolutely perfect and we are really enjoying being back,” said Tanak. “We'll keep the same pace for today at least but we are certainly not in a position to start pushing at the moment. I think we are doing OK so I don't want to put any extra into it.”
Further back, M-Sport WRT team leader Mikko Hirvonen rounds out the top five, with Mads Ostberg sixth for Citroen.
“It has been an alright morning. The boys in front are going quickly, but we'll try to keep up,” said Hirvonen. “We've had a pretty good run, but there is still that little bit missing to get back up to where we need to be – to make the lines a little cleaner and be absolutely perfect. But overall I am happy. We just need to keep it up – try to gain a little more performance with each stage and then just see where we are.”
“Not the start I was planning for, but I have enjoyed being in the car today, even if the rhythm have been hard to find,” Ostberg added. 2There is still a long way to go!”
Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen hold positions seven and eight, the latter going off into a snowbank in SS4, with Pontus Tidemand and Henning Solberg ninth and tenth. Henning suffered a spin in SS2 but bounced back in SS4 and ended the loop on a high by setting the second best time.
“I lost a lot of time with a spin on the first stage [of the morning, SS2], but now we are back – second quickest on that last stage [SS4]! Second fastest on the longest stage of the day is good. I have to admit that I was a little shaky after that one – we were so quick and I haven't driven in over a year so I had to breathe a couple of times! Still, not bad for someone over 40!” Henning joked.
“It has been quite a good morning for us,” Tidemand continued, “but we still have a few things to work on. We've not been in a world rally car for 12 months so we're certainly not at 100 per cent just yet. That said, we've had a good, clean run with no mistakes, and I think that gives us a good base to build on.”
Of the rest, Britain's Kris Meeke and former F1 man, Robert Kubica lie 11th and 12th with Crash.net columnist Elfyn Evans 13th in his M-Sport WRT-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Evans had a half-spin in Torsby 1, but other than that had no problems on his very first winter rally.
“It is definitely getting better and better. The first stage [of the day, SS2] was going well until we clipped a soft patch of snow on the inside of a corner – unfortunately that was just enough to spin the car around. We had to reverse and lost a little bit of time there. We were a lot more cautious after that and had a good clean run through the following stages. We're not taking any risks – just learning and really starting to enjoy it now,” Evans remarked.
In WRC2, Yazeed Al-Rajhi took the class lead in Finnskogen 1, demoting Jari Ketomaa to P2 - 4.9 seconds separates them.
The event now continues with a repeat-run through this morning's loop. SS5, Kirkener 2, is due to start at 14.54 hours local time [13.54 hours UK time].
Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 4 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 20m 56.7s M
2. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 01.6s M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 06.1s M
4. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 08.3s
5. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 15.0s M
6. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 18.0s M
7. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 25.0s M
8. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 25.5s M
9. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 27.8s
10. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 27.9s
11. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 30.5s M
12. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 41.1s M
13. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 49.9s M
14. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +01m 00.2s WRC2
15. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 03.2s
16. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 05.1s WRC2
17. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +01m 15.6s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 4 (Top 3):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC 21m 56.9s WRC2
2. Jari Ketomaa Drive DMACK WRT Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 04.9s WRC2
3. Karl Kruuda Ford Fiesta S2000 +00m 15.4s WRC2
all times unofficial
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