WRC Rally Sweden: Mikkelsen re-takes lead

Andreas Mikkelsen leads Rally Sweden with just one stage to go, 3 seconds up on Sebastien Ogier and 4.6 up on Thierry Neuville; Mads Ostberg loses over 5 mins in the opening test and slips from fourth to tenth after technical issues...
Andreas Mikkelsen has re-taken the lead on Rally Sweden, but Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville both remain very much in contention, less than 5 seconds adrift with just one stage to go.

Mikkelsen, who lost P1 on Saturday afternoon in the final test when he was overhauled by Neuville, began the final leg 1.5s back in second, and he immediately went back top after going second quickest in SS19. He was then third in SS20 to head into service G with a 3 second advantage over his Volkswagen team-mate Ogier.

“I was a bit too wide in the fast section [in the first test of the day]. But it was an okay stage for us to begin with. The stage was in a great condition,” Mikkelsen told the official WRC site. “Then I lost a second in the end there in SS20 but otherwise a good stage.”

“I need more,” added Ogier, who was quickest in SS19 and second in SS20. “[The second test was] not a perfect stage for me. I hit a few snow banks.”

Meanwhile, Neuville had intercom issues in Lesjofors, but still remains in the hunt and with the problem sorted for SS20 he completed the loop 4.6s off the lead and 1.6s off second.

“It's not over yet,” vowed the Hyundai pilot. “That [SS20] was a good stage - very close to perfect. If you see the opponents we face, it is certainly not going to be easy, but I'm going to try.”

Behind, Ott Tanak now holds fourth for M-Sport, albeit more than 2 minutes back and over a minute up on Hayden Paddon's i20 WRC in P5.

“We're in safe mode now which has been the target all morning. There are big gaps ahead and behind us so we need to think cleverly and ensure that we get to the end of the rally," said Tanak.

"The first stage [SS19] was a bit trickier than the second [SS20] as there was more snow and some surprises in a few corners. The second stage was basically just pure ice so that one was really nice to drive with really nice conditions.”

Elfyn Evans rounds out the top six and is still locked in a tight fight with fellow Brit Kris Meeke, although the Welshman has inched ahead ever so slightly in his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, the gap up from just 0.4s last night to 1.4s post-SS20.

“It's been a good morning for us," said Evans. "If I'm being completely honest, we didn't expect to be on Kris' pace considering his performance yesterday so that was good.

"The feeling was good on the first stage [SS19], but on the second one [SS20] I felt as though we gave a little bit away in a few areas. Overall the feeling in the car is good and everything seems to be working really well for us at the moment.”

Martin Prokop has dropped to eighth after losing around 20-30s in SS20: “We had a huge moment – a half roll. I was pushing on a high-speed corner and I have no idea how we got back on the road,” recounted the Ford privateer.

Further back Yuriy Protasov is ninth, with Mads Ostberg having dropped from fourth to tenth in his DS3 WRC after going off and getting stuck in a snow bank in SS19. He lost over 5 minutes as a result, but later confirmed that a technical problem was to blame.

“My handbrake is not working properly,” confirmed the Citroen driver. “I tried to use it and it locked all four wheels and sent us off."

Of the rest, Kevin Abbring lies just outside the top ten on his debut in a WRC car, one spot ahead of Jari Ketomaa, who continues to lead WRC2. Jari-Matti Latvala, Henning Solberg and Eyvind Brynildsen fill positions 13 through to 15.

Former F1 driver Robert Kubica has dropped back again after picking up a 5 minute penalty last night when it was discovered that the turbo on his engine exceeded the maximum permitted boost. He was already run outside the top-ten, however, after technical issues on Friday afternoon.

Rally Sweden now concludes with a repeat-run through the 15.87 km Varmullsasen test, due to start at 12.08 hours local time [11.08 hours UK time].

2015 Rally Sweden: Overall standings after Stage 20 (Top 10):

1. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 2h 47.21.9s
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +3.0s M
3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +4.6s M
4. Ott Tanak M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 07.3s M
5. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +3m 15.2s M
6. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 40.8s M
7. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +3m 42.2s M
8. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 00.4s M
9. Yuriy Protasov M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5m 12.7s
10. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC +6m 34.0s M


11. Kevin Abbring Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +7m 32.0s M
12. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +8m 55.2s WRC2
13. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +9m 03.4s M
14. Henning Solberg M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9m 07.1s
15. Eyvind Brynildsen Ford Fiesta RRC +9m 26.7s WRC2
20. Robert Kubica RK WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +14m 17.9s M

WRC2 standings after Stage 20 (Top 3):

1. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 2h 56m 37.1s WRC2
2. Eyvind Brynildsen Ford Fiesta RRC +0m 31.5s WRC2
3. Valeriy Gorban Mini Cooper S2000 1.6T +3m 33.9s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS5/6. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT SRL Ford Fiesta RS WRC Mechanical M*

SS14. Lorenzo Bertelli FWRT SRL Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off M**

SS20. Michal Solowow Synthos Cersanit RT Ford Fiesta RS WRC Went off

*denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Saturday
**denotes re-started under Rally 2 on Sunday

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

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Andreas Mikkelsen ,Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC, #9 Volkswagen Motorsport II)

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February 15, 2015 12:06 PM

Three for the win, within less than five seconds, with just one stage to go, -a very refreshing news ! A bit like a spring perfume for WRC, in spite of the hibernal decor of the Sweden rally.

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