World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier heads a Volkswagen trifecta at the end of the first full day of running on the snow and ice of Rally Sweden.
After trailing team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, Ogier took a handy lead in the morning stages before the Norwegian hit back to take a narrow 0.2 second advantage heading into the final stage of the day.
The Frenchman struck back to grab a 5.8 second advantage at the completion of the leg as Mikkelsen kept used rubber on this Polo to save rubber for Leg 2. With far less snow than the World Rally Championship field had expected, keeping an eye on the 24 tyres allocated to the event is expected to be key as the exposed gravel causes excessive wear on the winter studded rubber.
“We could have chosen to take new tyres now, but then we would have used tyres tomorrow morning,” said Mikkelsen.
“I preferred to lose time here and have new tyres in the morning. It would have been nice to fight for the lead overnight but it’s a long rally and that’s what we must think about.”
The other VW of Jari-Matti Latvala is 12.2 seconds further back.
M-Sport Ford driver Ott Tanak is within sight of a podium just 2.6 seconds back in fourth. Then Citroen’s Mads Ostberg and M-Sport’s Mikko Hirvonen share fifth place ahead of Thierry Neuville in the best of the Hyundais.
After his podium at Rally Monto Carlo Kris Meeke, along with former F1 deriver Robert Kubica, have run risk-free on what is there first look at the specialised event to be 10th and 11th.
LEADERBOARD: Leg 1 – Rally Sweden
|4||Ott Tanak||M-Sport Ford||+14.8s|
|6||Mikko Hirvonen||M-Sport Ford||+22.5s|
|9||Pontus Tidemand||M-Sport Ford||+44.6s|