Volkswagen's Andreas Mikkelsen continues to lead Rally Sweden following Saturday morning's opening loop, although team-mate Sebastien Ogier has closed right in and is now just 1.7 seconds back.
Mikkelsen started the leg with a 19.1 second advantage and the quickest time in the first test of the day, 6 seconds up on Ogier, saw him extend the margin to 27.3 seconds.
However, the Norwegian was then only fourth in SS12, losing 8 seconds, and while he was third in SS13, he haemorrhaged time in SS14 – the final test of the loop – losing almost 20 seconds after spinning his Polo R WRC. It means he now heads back to Hagfors for the mid-day service with Ogier right on his tail.
“I touched a bank and spun. It took a long time to turn around because the road was so narrow. I was unlucky,” Mikkelsen told the official WRC site.
Asked if he can hold onto the lead and keep Ogier behind, he replied: “It will be tough this afternoon but I will give it everything.”
Meanwhile, Ogier was delighted with his morning's work, and after being third fastest in SS11, he set the pace in the other three tests hauling himself right back into the thick of it after that error in Torbsy 2 on Friday cost him the lead.
Behind, Thierry Neuville holds third for Hyundai, 10.7s back and 38.8s up on the Citroen of Mads Ostberg. Ostberg had a poor start to the day, crashing in the first test and losing over 40 seconds.
“I slid wide, hit a bank and got a puncture,” he explained, although a wheel change saw him back on the pace with the third best time in SS12 and two fourth quickest times in SS13 and SS14.
M-Sport's Ott Tanak remains a lonely fifth, almost a minute up on Hayden Paddon's Hyundai i20 WRC.
“It's not been so easy with the conditions – it's really snowy and there isn't a lot of grip,” Tanak noted. “I think we had a good rhythm and we've been really clean and tidy all morning. We just need to carry on like this.
“If there is more grip we shall of course try to push a bit more, but for the moment I think we will just continue as we have.”
Further back, Martin Prokop holds seventh, 12.6s off Paddon, with Elfyn Evans, Kris Meeke and Yuriy Protasov in positions 8 through to 10. Kevin Abbring lies just outside the top-ten on his debut in a WRC car.
“It's not been a great morning and we struggled in the first stage [SS11] especially,” said Evans. “It didn't feel so bad inside the car but we clearly didn't push enough. The stage after that [SS12] wasn't too bad. It was much higher speed and the grip levels were a lot more consistent; there were areas in there that I was really pleased with. Of course there are still areas to improve, but I was particularly happy with a few sections in there.
“In general I think we have just been struggling to find the confidence. I've not found that zone that we were in yesterday afternoon so we'll need to try and recover that for the second pass. Hopefully the conditions will be a bit more consistent which should suit us, but we'll have to wait and see.”
Henning Solberg has slipped from P9 to P15 after going off in SS11 and getting stuck in a snow bank. He lost over 5 minutes and also continues to have issues with the gear change.
Former F1 driver Robert Kubica and Jari-Matti Latvala continue to run a bit further back after their issues on Friday afternoon. Kubica had a solid morning – posting sixth fastest times in three of the four stages – while Latvala was back on the pace and second best in SS11, SS12 and SS13. However he then spun in SS14 and got stuck, losing over 30 seconds.
In WRC2, Jari Ketomaa continues to head the support class, 40s up on Eyvind Brynildsen. Brynildsen has moved back up to P2 after Fredrik Ahlin and Valeriy Gorban both had problems. Ahlin spun in SS11, losing 30s, and then Gorban went off in the final test, losing over 3 minutes. He also managed to hold up Ahlin when he rejoined, much to the Swede's displeasure.
Day two of Rally Sweden now continues this afternoon with repeat runs through all four of this morning's stages. SS15, the 18.15km Fredriksberg 2 test, is due to start at 13.26 hours local time [12.26 hours UK time].
Full itinerary for event available – HERE
2015 Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 14 (Top 10):
1. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 1h 52m 08.3s
2. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +01.7s
3. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +12.4s
4. Mads Ostberg
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +51.2s
5. Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 27.0s
6. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +2m 23.4s
7. Martin Prokop
Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 36.0s
8. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 23.1s
9. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +3m 35.2s
10. Yuriy Protasov
M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 46.1s
11. Kevin Abbring
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +4m 28.4s
12. Jari Ketomaa
Ford Fiesta R5 +5m 43.2s
13. Michal Solowow
Synthos Cersanit RT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5m 55.3s
14. Eyvind Brynildsen
Ford Fiesta RRC +6m 23.2s
15. Henning Solberg
M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7m 59.5s
16. Fredrik Ahlin
Ford Fiesta R5 +8m 06.9s
17. Robert Kubica
RK WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +8m 11.6s
18. Stephane Lefebvre
Citroen DS3 R5 +8m 46.5s
19. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +8m 52.2s
WRC2 standings after Stage 14 (Top 3):
1. Jari Ketomaa
Ford Fiesta R5 1h 57m 51.5s
2. Eyvind Brynildsen
Ford Fiesta RRC +0m 40.0s
3. Fredrik Ahlin
Ford Fiesta R5 +2m 23.7s
SS5/6. Lorenzo Bertelli
FWRT SRL Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical
*denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial