Pontus Tidemand has taken the surprise early lead on Rally Sweden following Thursday night's short opening Karlstad super special.

Tidemand, who won the JWRC title in 2013 and who finished eighth overall in Sweden last year in an M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC car, is competing in a Fiesta RRC this time out and made the most being one of the first in, with conditions at their best, to complete the 1.90 km test in 1 minute 32.1 seconds. That left him 2.5 seconds up on WRC2 rival Anders Grondal, who he was paired with, and at the end of the runs, 0.3 seconds up on Mads Ostberg.

"I really enjoyed that - I always do," said Tidemand. "Everything felt good and we couldn't have made a more perfect start to our home event. It was great to see so many spectators out supporting us, and I think we gave the home crowd something to cheer about tonight!"

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Ostberg went up against Rallye Monte Carlo winner and two-time WRC champion, Sebastien Ogier, with the Frenchman winding up seventh, 0.8 seconds back.

"We had a proper good rallycross start," Ostberg told the official WRC site. "After that I tried to push a little bit but not too hard. Before the start I wanted to show Ogier how it is going to be all rally."

"I do not know [if this is how it will be all weekend], it is a long rally," Ogier added. "It will not be difficult for him [Ostberg] to beat me this weekend if he does well. I have a difficult rally ahead from my start position of first on the road.

"Here I [just] had a bad start, everything was lost there."

Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala came in third best, followed by Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tanak in positions 4 through to 6.

Behind Ogier, former F1 driver Robert Kubica was eighth, ahead of Yuriy Protasov, Kevin Abbring, Fredrik Ahlin and Grondal, the latter three all posting exactly the same time.

Kris Meeke was 13th, after a "s**t" start, while fellow Brit Elfyn Evans also struggled to get away: "We had a terrible start on the line. We never seemed to get it under control," said the Welshman, who is 22nd.

Rally Sweden now continues on Friday with nine stages on the bill and a total competitive distance of 124.54 kilometres.

SS2, Torbsy 1, is scheduled to run at 08.29 hours local time [07.29 hours UK time].

Full itinerary for event available - HERE.

2015 Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):

1. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta RRC 1m 32.1s WRC2
2. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 00.3s M
3. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 00.4s M
4. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 00.6s M
5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +0m 00.7s
6. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 01.0s M
7. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +0m 01.1s M
8. Robert Kubica RK WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 02.0s M
9. Yuriy Protasov M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 02.2s
10. Kevin Abbring Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +0m 02.5s M
= Fredrik Ahlin Ford Fiesta R5 +0m 02.5s WRC2
= Anders Grondal Citroen DS3 R5 +0m 02.5s WRC2

Other(s):

13. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +0m 02.6s M
= Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +0m 02.6s WRC2
15. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT SRL Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 03.0s M
17. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 03.2s M
18. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +0m 03.3s M
20. Michal Solowow Synthos Cersanit RT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 04.2s
21. Henning Solberg M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 04.6s
22. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +0m 04.7s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):

1. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta RRC 1m 32.1s WRC2
2. Fredrik Ahlin Ford Fiesta R5 +0m 02.5s WRC2
= Anders Grondal Citroen DS3 R5 +0m 02.5s WRC2

Notable retirements:

None.

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial