12 February 2016
WRC Rally Sweden: Ogier holds off Paddon on opening day
Sebastien Ogier holds a comfortable 26secs lead over Hyundai's Hayden Paddon on the Rally Sweden, as Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala exit.
Sebastien Ogier has established a comfortable lead at the end of an eventful first day for the Rally Sweden, ahead of Hayden Paddon, but Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala are out.
Having topped all three stages of the morning loop, though Ogier failed to top the timesheets in the slushier afternoon loop as the running order played its part, he was fast enough to keep his lead constant as those behind slipped out of contention.
Indeed, having been chased initially by VW team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, the Norwegian suffered an off on SS7 that would drop him back to seventh, though he would climb a spot before the day was out.
Helped along by topping that stage, Kris Meeke briefly elevated himself to second position in the Citroen DS3, but his rally is all-but-over after he struck an unsighted rock mid-corner and damaged the car's steering. It comes after he suffered a similar fate in the Rallye Monte Carlo whilst challenging for the lead.
Similarly, it was to be a desperately disappointing day for Jari-Matti Latvala, who struggled with driveshaft issues from the opening stage, only to retire with suspension problems before the day was out. Like Meeke, it is his second DNF a row, but he has the chance to restart under Rally 2
Their misfortune, however, would play into the hands of Paddon, whose more favourable position in the running order would see him win two stages and catapult from a morning seventh to an end-of-day second position, 26secs behind the comfortable Ogier.
Indeed, on a strong day for those starting later on the running order as the event's warmer-than-usual conditions took its toll, Mads Ostberg rounded out the top three in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta, while Ott Tanak was an impressive fourth at the end of the leg, the DMACK tyres working better in the tricky surface.
Dani Sordo made it a strong start for Hyundai in fifth place – making up for mechanical problems hampering Thierry Neuville all day - ahead of the recovering Mikkelsen, with WRC wild-card Henning Solberg enjoying an unflustered run to seventh in the Adapta Ford Fiesta RS.
Making his much anticipated Citroen WRC debut, Craig Breen kept it clean to claim a top three stage time en route to eighth one the leaderboard, ahead of Eric Camilli and Lorenzo Bertelli.
In WRC2, Elfyn Evans leads at the end of the leg, 17secs ahead of Teemu Suninen.
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