Sweden - SS3-4: Scare for leader Ogier
Frenchman stretches advantage despite hitting tree
Sébastien Ogier won all three of Friday morning’s Rally Sweden speed tests to build a comfortable 24.2sec lead despite hitting a tree in the final special stage.
After winning the opening Torsby test, Ogier topped the times in Röjden and again in Svullrya as this second round of the FIA World Rally Championship crossed into Norway.
But the Frenchman finished Svullrya with most of the front wing missing from his Volkswagen Polo R.
“There was a big, big water splash which I didn’t have in my pace notes,” he said. “The organisers warned us about a bump but I couldn’t turn after it and went into the trees.”
Ogier stopped for several minutes to fit a replacement steering arm that was carried in the car before heading to the mid-leg regroup.
Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen went off at the same point and was 17.3sec slower than his colleague. However, the Norwegian retained second place.
Kris Meeke was a further 4.5sec behind in third after setting second fastest time in SS4 in Citroën’s DS 3. The Ulsterman admitted he was taking a different line to those ahead in a bid to find a cleaner grip on the icy surface.
Fourth was Dani Sordo in a Hyundai i20, with Mads Østberg and Ott Tänak completing the top six. Østberg was almost caught out at the same point as Ogier and Mikkelsen but survived to set third fastest time in his Ford Fiesta RS.
Next up were Hayden Paddon and Henning Solberg, who was struggling to downshift in his Fiesta RS, with Craig Breen and Thierry Neuville completing the leaderboard.
Neuville was third after Röjden but a transmission problem in Svullrya cost almost 80sec and he tumbled down the order with only front-wheel drive on his i20.
Things were just as bleak for Jari-Matti Latvala. A broken front left driveshaft meant the Finn was also coping with front-wheel drive only in his Polo R and he dropped more than 3min 30sec through the two tests to hold 30th.
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