Thierry Neuville made the most of his more beneficial running order position to surge to the head of the leaderboard on the first full day of action for the Rally Sweden after winning three of the afternoon loop's four stages.

The Belgian trailed Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala after the day's first three tours - despite winning two of them - but top times on SS5, SS6 and SS7, as well as second best on SS8, has seen Neuville overturn a 3.9secs deficit into a 28.1s advantage driving the Hyundai i20 Coupe.

With Neuville looking to make amends from his Monte Carlo heartbreak when a minor error lost him an almost certain victory, only four drivers are within a minute of the leader with Latvala holding down a comfortable second in the new Yaris, a further 21secs clear of Ott Tanak, the afternoon's only other stage winner.

With all drivers struggling in the challenging conditions as the day wore on, Tanak was the day's big winner as he ascended from fifth to third at the expense of Meeke, who runs fourth now, and Sebastian Ogier, the Frenchman enduring a tricky day in the M-Sport Ford Fiesta to run 55.7secs off Neuville.

Spurred on by going second quickest on SS5, Hayden Paddon is now up to sixth in front of Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo, with Craig Breen, Elfyn Evans and Stefan Lefebvre rounding out the top ten.

Having run inside the top six initially, WRC returnee Mads Ostberg endured a difficult afternoon when a gearbox change made him late for checkpoint - thus earning him a 50secs penalty - before his rear spoiler detached on SS5, leaving him compromised for the next three stages as well and well down the order.

Meanwhile, Juho Hanninen's rally came to a premature end after going off in the second Toyota towards the end of SS5 and damaging the cooling system.

Home favourite Pontus Tidemand heads up the WRC2 leaderboard for Skoda, around 45secs clear of Teemu Suninen and Ole Christian Veiby in third.


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