Sweden - After SS8: Heavy snow traps leaders
Ogier, Mikkelsen and Meeke caught out in snow
Heavy snow transformed driving conditions at Rally Sweden on Friday afternoon and caused a major upheaval among the leaders on this second round of the FIA World Rally Championship.
Worst affected was Kris Meeke. The Ulsterman was fastest through the repeat pass of the Svullrya stage to climb to second before retiring midway through the following Röjden test after hitting a stone buried in the road in Citroën’s DS 3.
Also in trouble was Andreas Mikkelsen who plummeted from second in Svullrya after going off the road and losing about 20sec.
The Norwegian completed the test with damage to the front left of his Volkswagen Polo R and explained: “I lost the rear of the car a bit and hit a tree stump. It spun the car around and I stalled. I lost a lot of time, I think my chance of first has gone. It’s all about second now.”
Leader Sébastien Ogier wasn’t immune to the drama. The Frenchman overshot a junction in Röjden and was only eighth fastest, but the troubles of those behind him meant he headed to the final Torsby stage with an increased lead of 30.9sec.
Charging into second from sixth was Hayden Paddon, the Kiwi second in Svullrya and quickest in the cross-border Röjden test. “We have the advantage of road conditions due to the snow. The roads are cleaning with the passage of more cars but it’s still really slippery,” he said.
Ford Fiesta RS duo Mads Østberg and Ott Tänak climbed to third and fourth, relegating Dani Sordo to fifth. But it is so tight that only 8.3sec cover the quartet ending with Mikkelsen in sixth.
Craig Breen was third in Svullrya but dropped a handful of seconds after an overshoot in the next test, while Henning Solberg delighted his Norwegian fans with fourth in Röjden.
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