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WRC 2015, Round 2/13 – Rally Sweden (February 12/15)

WRC 2015

Round 2, Rally Sweden

Entry list

Rally Maps

LIVE Stream

LIVE Map

Radio

Sverige Radio / Rally Sweden

Citroën LIVE timing

Autosport Race Centre Live Commentary

VF / Bilsport

Shakedown Mag –  Rally Sweden Guide

Expressen – LIVE-TV

Timetabe

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shakedown (Råda), 210 min. 4.30 km 8:00
Ceremonial start 19:00
SS 1S Karlstad 1 1.90 km 20:08
Parc fermé (Hagfors) 21:38
Competitive distance: 1.90 km

Friday, 13 February 2015

Service A (Hagfors), 15 min. 7:05
SS 2 Torsby 1 14.76 km 8:29
SS 3 Röjden 1 18.73 km 9:27
SS 4 Finnskogen 1 20.76 km 10:36
SS 5 Kirkenær 1 07.07 km 11:21
Regroup (Kirkenær) 11:41
SS 6 Kirkenær 2 07.07 km 13:27
SS 7 Finnskogen 2 20.76 km 14:19
SS 8 Röjden 2 18.73 km 15:16
SS 9 Torsby 2 14.76 km 16:35
Regroup (Karlstad) 18:26
SS 10S Karlstad 2 01.90 km 19:00
Flexi service B (Hagfors), 45 min. 20:41
Parc fermé (Hagfors) 21:26
Competitive distance: 124.54 km

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Service C (Hagfors), 15 min. 6:05
SS 11 Fredriksberg 1 18.15 km 7:48
SS 12 Rämmen 1 22.76 km 8:37
SS 13 Hagfors Sprint 1 1.87 km 9:24
SS 14 Vargåsen 1 24.63 km 10:08
Regroup (Hagfors) 11:03
Service D (Hagfors), 30 min. 11:28
SS 15 Fredriksberg 2 18.15 km 13:26
SS 16 Rämmen 2 22.76 km 14:15
SS 17 Hagfors Sprint 2 01.87km 15:02
SS 18 Vargåsen 2 24.63km 15:46
Flexi service E (Hagfors), 45 min. 16:51
Parc fermé (Hagfors) 17:36
Competitive distance: 134.82km

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Service F (Hagfors), 15 min. 7:40
SS 19 Lesjöfors 15.00 km 8:57
SS 20 Värmullsåsen 1 15.87 km 9:48
Service G (Hagfors), 30 min. 10:31
Regroup (Hagfors) 11:01
SS 21P Värmullsåsen 2 15.87 km 12:08
Service H (Hagfors), 10 min. 12:56
Podium Cermony (Main Square Karlstad) 83.38 15:00
Competitive distance: 46.76km

Rally total:
21 special stages
Stage distance: 308.00km
Total distance: 1,441.57 km

all times local

Preview

The second round of the FIA World Rally Championship is one of the fastest and most spectacular events on the calendar and is set in the snowy forests of Sweden and Norway. Beautiful scenery abounds, but competing in sub-zero temperatures requires specific preparation for both man and machinery. The cars, in particular, are equipped with special tyres that feature tungsten-tipped steel studs which provide amazing grip as they bite through the frozen road surface. For the crews, many can be seen wearing heated racing boots and anti-glare glasses, which provide greater definition of the snow covered landscape.

The entry list boasts 17 entrants in full-spec World Rally Car machinery, while a host of contenders have nominated Sweden as one of their point-scoring rounds in the FIA WRC 2 Championship. Just one Norwegian – Ole-Christian Veiby – has entered the WRC 3 Championship category in his two-wheel drive DS 3 R3-MAX but the youngster will doubtless be looking to impress on this dual-country event that spends one days in his homeland.

Stages 1, 14 and 21 – the Power Stage – will be broadcasted live on the international feed.

RALLY SWEDEN – ROUTE GRAPHICS

THE 2015 ROUTE

Approximately one-third of this year’s route is different to 2014 and of the 11 individual stages four are either new or modified. The event kicks off with the familiar super special stage in Karlstad on Thursday evening and Friday takes in all the modified stages, most of which are in neighbouring Norway. Crews will be back on familiar ground on Saturday with classic stages for the longest day of the event, while Sunday takes in just two different stages, the second run through Värmullsåsen closing the rally as the Power Stage.

RALLY DATA

Total distance: 1,441.57 km
Stage distance: 308 km (21.4%)
Number of stages: 21

Team Previews

Manufacturers: Volkswagen Motorsport / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
1 Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (F)
2 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

Team Manufacturer: Volkswagen Motorsport II / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
9 Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Fløene (N)

Snow and ice aren’t a surface that your average Joe Bloggs necessarily feels comfortable driving on. But the same cannot be said for the Volkswagen drivers: Rally Sweden – the only truly wintry rally in the WRC calendar – was very much dominated by the men in the Polo R WRC in the last two years.

In Volkswagen Motorsport’s debut season in 2013, it was Sébastien Ogier who won in Sweden, giving the team its first ever rally victory in the WRC. And last year, it was Jari-Matti Latvala who was unstoppable – with Andreas Mikkelsen finishing in second place to claim his first ever podium position.

And in 2015? Can Volkswagen Motorsport score a third consecutive win in Rally Sweden? The statistics are promising: in the past two years, the three drivers won a total of 31 out of 45 special stages in their Polo R WRC vehicles in the winter rally. Sébastien Ogier alone was responsible for almost half of the fastest times, with a stage win tally of 21.

It may not be quite so easy this year, however, due to their one-two-three win in Monte Carlo: starting this season, the drivers compete in the order of their WRC standings on the first two days of each rally. The three leading Volkswagen drivers therefore have the disadvantage of having to assume the role of the ‘snowplough’ ahead of the rest of the field.

The conditions haven’t been this good for years – the temperature in and around Hagfors has been well below zero for weeks now, and the ground is frozen solid. The Rally Sweden special stages are lined with metre-high snow banks. The stage is therefore perfectly set for a thrilling second event in the 2015 WRC season.

Everyone in the Volkswagen Motorsport camp is crossing their fingers in the hope that things stay that way until the rally gets under way on Thursday – and above all in the hope that there’s no new snow before then. This is because having scored a one-two-three victory in Rally Monte Carlo, Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1), Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) and Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) will now be the first entrants to hit the track in Sweden, in this order. “If you’re one of the first to set off and there’s fresh snow on the tracks, you don’t have a hope of winning,” says reigning world champion Ogier, who succeeded in winning the only winter rally in the WRC calendar in 2013. Having to act as ‘road sweepers’, which usually gives the competitors starting behind you a clearer ideal line, is less of a disadvantage for the three Volkswagen drivers if the tracks are merely icy, rather than covered in snow.

Rally Sweden is undoubtedly one of the favourite events for the professionals. “Hurtling through snow-covered forests at 180 km/h is a sensational experience,” says last year’s winner Jari-Matti Latvala. Such high speeds are made possible by the spiked tyres which are only used in Rally Sweden, with close to 400 tungsten nails that grip the ice. “This gives you more traction than you get in a gravel-based rally,” says Latvala.

It’s the spectacular action that makes Rally Sweden a firm favourite among the fans too, and they line the tracks in droves, despite temperatures ranging from zero to minus ten degrees. Many of them travel in style using snowmobiles. And at popular spots such as the infamous Colin’s Crest jump, it’s all the rage to go in fancy dress – giving the rally something of a carnival feel.

Rally Sweden is also the second test of the new Polo R WRC car’s toughness. The second-generation World Rally Car built by Volkswagen Motorsport proved to be unbeatable at its debut in the French Alps. “It will definitely be difficult to repeat that success. But our preparation work has been perfect,” says Ogier.

As in previous years, the rally route will again foray into neighbouring Norway, with eight of the 21 special stages being held there. Most of Friday’s proceedings will take place on Norwegian soil. In all, the field of approximately 50 entrants will tackle 308 timed kilometres. The rally gets under way on Thursday evening with a super special stage held at the racecourse in Karlstad.

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“As with any rally, the winner come the end of the Rally Sweden will be the person who drove fastest, whilst at the same time making the fewest mistakes. Despite this, it is always very special for me to drive in Sweden. No other round of the WRC is held entirely on ice and snow, and I love that. It looks as though we are going to have very good conditions this year. There is a lot of snow on the ground in Sweden, and the cold temperatures in Scandinavia have transformed many sections of the route into skating rinks. I am looking forward to it, and to a fast rally. The only thing that could possibly ruin my fun a little would be fresh snow. That would be a slight disadvantage for the first drivers on the route. All the same, I head to Sweden full of optimism, as the win at the Rally Monte Carlo has given me even more motivation. You could say that the conditions at the Rally Sweden are actually far more predictable than the ‘Monte’, and they will definitely not be as demanding for us drivers.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I learned to drive rally cars on snow and ice. Even as a kid I used to bomb across frozen lakes, so I feel right at home at the Rally Sweden. Early on in my career, the Rally Sweden was actually my very favourite rally, but I now feel comfortable on any surface. With the old Polo R WRC, I always had slight understeer on snow. However, tests show that our new Polo R WRC has improved in this regard. I am particularly looking forward to the ‘Frederiksberg’ and ‘Vargåsen’ stages in Sweden, because you can find a good rhythm on them and these two stages feature some big jumps. The second place at the Rally Monte Carlo also gives me cause for optimism. That was better than I expected. Should I win in Sweden, it would underline my title aspirations. Despite this, I am well aware that, as well as Sébastien, Andreas and the likes of Mads Østberg will also be in contention for the win. You always have to reckon on those guys here.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I associate a lot of positives with the Rally Sweden. Last year I finished on the podium for the first time there. The main features of the Rally Sweden are the fast special stages lined by snowbanks on the roadside. If you find the right snowbanks, which you can lean on, you can gain a lot of time and find yourself up there with the front-runners. If you get it wrong and hit a snowbank that is too soft, your rally can be over just as quickly. I start third on the first couple of days, and the first drivers out will have a disadvantage if there is a lot of snow on the route. As such, I hope the roads are icy, rather than covered in snow. Should that not be the case, I will be aiming for a top-five finish. At the moment, people keep asking me whether I can win with last year’s Polo R WRC. I am convinced that I can and, given the right conditions, the prospect of a maiden win is entirely realistic.”

Manufacturers: Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team / Citroën DS3 WRC (Michelin)
3 Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (GB/IRL)
4Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (N/S)

Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle will drive the two DS 3 WRCs entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Sweden. The only full winter event on the World Championship calendar, the Swedish round is expected to provide perfect conditions for this year’s rally.

Snow, ice and even more snow! Over the last few weeks, the Hagfors region has enjoyed perfect wintry weather conditions. Very cold temperatures followed heavy snowfall to create a thick layer of icy snow on the roads. And more recent snowfall has consolidated the white covering just a few days from the start.

It is a long time since conditions for the Rally Sweden have been so promising. If the situation doesn’t change in the coming days, the surface should remain consistent throughout the event. The studs will therefore become less worn and all the fans will be treated to a great show!

THE 2015-SPEC DS 3 WRC PUT TO THE TEST

A few days after making a successful debut at Monte-Carlo, the 2015-spec DS 3 WRC will be faced with another challenge in Sweden. The work on the car’s aerodynamics this winter will give it a significant advantage on these high-speed stages. The engine’s power will be fully unleashed and the drivers will also be able to use the steering wheel-mounted paddles for every gear change.

Featuring the revised rear suspension geometry, which makes the car easier to drive, the 2015-spec DS 3 WRC is significantly quicker and more efficient.

Having claimed podium finishes in Karlstad for the last four years, this is practically Mads Østberg’s home rally. Some of the stages held on Friday cross over the border into Norway and his co-driver Jonas Andersson is Swedish. Mads made his WRC debut in Sweden during the 2006 season, at just 18 years of age. Fourth in Monte-Carlo, he has a good opportunity to shine on the Värmland ice. And to prepare for the forthcoming WRC round as effectively as possible, he will be competing at the Finnskog Rally, the Norwegian Championship event, this Saturday, 7 February in the DS 3 WRC.

In the second car entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, Kris Meeke has more limited experience here. With only one previous appearance at Rally Sweden in 2014, the Briton is less familiar with the snow and icy conditions than the vast majority of his rivals. His performances with the DS 3 WRC would nonetheless suggest he has real potential on this surface.

Five crews will be taking part in DS 3 R5s. Winner of the opening round of the FIA WRC2 Championship, Stéphane Lefebvre continues to learn about rallying at this level with his debut appearance in Sweden. The Frenchman has decided not to nominate this round as one of his points-scoring rallies. Competing in the WRC2 category, Anders Grondal will be one of the favourites. The Swedish drivers Robin Friberg and Thomas Thunström and the Estonian Karl Kruuda have also opted to drive in a DS 3 R5, but they are not competing in the championship. Meanwhile, after finishing on the podium on his first outing in the FIA Junior WRC, the Norwegian Ole-Christian Veiby will be trying to win the two-wheel drive category in a DS 3 R3-MAX.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “The 2015-spec la DS 3 WRC was very quick on its competitive debut, collecting the majority of the stage wins at the Rallye Monte-Carlo. In Sweden, we’ll be beginning a new chapter. Although the setting is also decidedly wintry here, the conditions will be very different. This event is important for Mads Østberg. This is practically his home round, so he’ll be driving on very familiar roads and on a surface that he enjoys. After a test session, he will be taking part in the Finnskog Rally in Norway to prepare as fully as possible. Kris Meeke will be able to call upon the experience he acquired here in 2014. His aim will be to make the most of his potential with the support of the team.”

Mads Østberg: “Rally Sweden is one of the key moments of my season. I really can’t wait to be there. The last few years have gone pretty well with a series of podiums, including third place last year in the DS 3 WRC. With the experience gained in 2014 and good preparations, I hope to do even better this time around. The new DS 3 WRC is very competitive. It should be a real asset in these conditions. Our starting position won’t give us a particular advantage or disadvantage. Running in fourth place, we know that it won’t be perfect but it won’t be a huge problem either, regardless of the conditions. After a very good rally in 2014, my goal is to fight at the front. This will be my first rally with the 2015-spec DS 3 WRC, so if I’m challenging for the win that would a great performance.”

Kris Meeke: “I was a little bit disappointed after the Rallye Monte-Carlo because we had been quick, but we were unable to convert our competitiveness into a good result. It was nonetheless a very encouraging start. I really enjoyed my first outing in Sweden in 2014. The conditions weren’t perfect as we had fairly high temperatures, but it was still great to drive on these roads. You always have fun in conditions like these! However, as this is the only event on the calendar to be contested on snow, you need several years to acquire enough experience to be able to fight at the front. My realistic target here is to finish in the top five or six. I still need to learn and be consistent. I’ll be driving within my own limits, determined by my personal experience.”

SWEDISH COURSE WITH A FORAY INTO NORWAY

After two days of reconnaissance on Tuesday and Wednesday, the drivers will get into their race cars on Thursday, 12 February between 8am and 11.30am for the shakedown held in Råda, next to Hagfors.

The ceremonial start will be held on Thursday evening in Karlstad, followed by a 1.9-kilometre super special stage. The crews will then complete a long road section to Hagfors, where they will spend the night.

After morning service at 7.05am on Friday morning, the crews will tackle two loops of four stages in Sweden with Torsby (14.76km) and then in Norway with Röjden (18.73km), Finnskogen (20.76km) and Kirkenaer (7.07km). Cars will only be authorized to changes tyres during the midday break. The leg will conclude with a second run on the Karlstad super special stage before the cars return to the Hagfors service park at 8.41pm.

On Saturday, four stages identical to those used in 2014 will be completed twice: Fredriksberg (18.15km), Rämmen (22.76km), Hagfors Sprint (1.87km) and Vargåsen (24.63km), with the famous jump over Colin’s Crest. These eight timed stages will be separated by a thirty-minute midday service.

The final leg, during which the running order will use the overall standings of the rally, from the lowest to the top-ranked P1 and P2 drivers, will feature three stages: first of all Lesjöfors, then two runs on Värmullsasen. The second of these will serve as the televised Power Stage, at 12.08pm. The rally is scheduled to finish at 3.00pm in Karlstad.

Manufacturers: M-Sport World Rally Team / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Michelin)
5 Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barrit (GB)
6 Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder (EE)
14 Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor (N/A)
17 Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cheperin (UA) Pirelli

M-Sport World Rally Team’s Elfyn Evans and Ott Tänak will tackle another specialist event next week as the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) ventures to Rally Sweden. The team will be hoping for a classic snow rally in which their young charges can make the most of what could be an advantageous road position.

As the only full-snow event on the calendar, the Swedish fixture offers a unique challenge but the compacted ice and snow also offer a surprising level of traction. As the tungsten-tipped steel studs of Michelin’s X-ICE NORTH 2 tyres bite through the soft snow to capture grip on the hard ice below, the EcoBoost powered Ford Fiesta RS WRCs can reach tremendous speeds making this wintery event one of the fastest rallies of the year.

There is however a real art to driving on snow. The grip may be higher than expected, but the crews are still required to adapt their driving style – selecting different braking points, driving within the ‘lines’ and guiding their cars through corners by leaning on hard-packed snow banks.

The Swedish winter can also affect the outcome and optimum road position significantly. Following a harsh winter with recent snowfall, the cars ahead are forced to sweep the road which allows those behind to better capture grip on the ice below. But following a milder winter, gravel starts to appear through the ice which puts those further down the field at a disadvantage – the exposed gravel damaging the studs which can result in a considerable loss of traction.

Scandinavian drivers have historically prospered at this event – their knowledge of winter rallies providing an advantage. By contrast, next weekend will mark only the second ever snow rally for Evans who hasn’t had a lot of down time since the previous outing in Monte-Carlo. Between meeting the Redbull UK family – including mountain biker Danny Macaskill – and conducting a two-day test ahead of the Swedish event, Evans has also been instrumental in the testing and development of the new-evolution Fiesta RS WRC.

The Welshman made his winter debut behind the wheel of the top-specification Fiesta last year and, despite retiring on the final stage, he and co-driver Daniel Barritt gained good experience of the route. Combining that experience with the wealth of knowledge gained at their pre-event test, the pairing will be looking to improve both their speed and performance next week.

Tänak has just one more year of experience, but the Estonian is somewhat more confident on snow. Making a celebrated comeback to the WRC last year, he and co-driver Raigo Mõlder were running as high as third overall and finished in an impressive fifth place.

In fact the Estonians’ impressive performances of late warranted a visit to the Estonian Prime Minister. Tänak and Mõlder were amongst a number of their compatriots invited to visit the head of state in celebration of the country’s budding motorsport prospects.

Despite his recent recognition, Tänak won’t be going all out for the podium next week. The Estonian will focus on his own event, but his speed and potential mean that he should not be ruled out of a strong result – no more so following a successful two-day test in the lead-up to the event.

Elfyn Evans said:

“I haven’t got a massive amount of experience on snow, but I do enjoy it. It’s unique and different – a new challenge – and I think that’s what I like about coming back here; even if I’m not a massive fan of the cold!

“There’s something of a score to settle after last year and I really want to finish this event. We made a fairly solid start 12 months ago, but there was a lot of scope for improvement. Our priority will be to ensure that we show that improvement and do the best job we can.

“The driving style that you need to adapt here is different to any other round. The feeling isn’t a million miles away from driving on gravel, but there are certain techniques that are very specific to driving on snow. We’ve not mastered them all yet, but we’re working on it!

“One of the challenges of this event can be vision. When there is fresh snow everything is white and that makes it particularly difficult to read the road ahead. The conditions can also be quite changeable. If there is a good ice base then the grip levels are fairly high, but sometimes it can be variable which is really tough for the drivers.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge and I can’t wait to get out there and hopefully show a marked improvement from last year.”

Ott Tänak said:

“I’ve only done this rally twice before so I am not as experienced as some of the other drivers, but it is definitely one of my favourite events in the championship. The stages are so fast and flowing and really smooth so it’s always a lot of fun to drive in Sweden.

“We aim to have a clean, fast run and to most importantly enjoy it. The conditions look really nice at the moment so I hope that it stays like this. I think the key is to have a good test and get a good feeling before the rally. If we can be relaxed and get into a good rhythm early on then it could be a good event for us.

“The snow banks can provide quite a lot of support – although you have to be careful not to lean too hard – and there is also a lot of grip from the studded tyres. But the lines are very narrow and that’s arguably the most difficult part. You need to make sure that you stay in the lines and go with the flow because if you find yourself on fresh snow, outside of those lines, it’s really slippery.

“I’m really looking forward to next week. It’s a real adrenaline rush driving these fast stages and I can’t wait to get out there and have some fun!”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS

Eight Ford Fiesta RS WRCs have been entered alongside three Ford Fiesta RRCs, eight Ford Fiesta R5s and one Ford Fiesta S2000.

Joining Evans and Tänak in the M-Sport service area are Henning Solberg, Yuriy Protasov and local hero Pontus Tidemand.

Piloting a Fiesta RS WRC Solberg is a welcome sight at any FIA World Rally Championship event, but the Norwegian will be accompanied by his loyal band of supporters next week and could well spring a few surprises having claimed a stage win with the top-specification Fiesta last year.

Protasov also makes a welcome return to the Fiesta RS WRC. The Ukrainian will be looking to develop his skills further – challenging for a top-ten position in the process.

Finally, Värmland resident Tidemand kick starts his WRC 2 campaign behind the wheel of an M-Sport prepared Fiesta RRC. The Swede has the speed and talent to challenge for victory on all surfaces but, with the home crowd behind him, he could well produce something special next week.

Manufacturers: Hyundai Motorsport / Hyundai i20 WRC (Michelin)
7 Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (B)
8 Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (E)

Team Manufacturer: Hyundai Motorsport / Hyundai i20 WRC (Michelin)
20 Kevin Abbring / Sebastian Marshall (NL/GB)

Fresh from a two-car finish in the top six at Rallye Monte-Carlo in January, Hyundai Motorsport heads to Rally Sweden with renewed optimism as it fields three cars for the first time this season.

The team has been forced to make a last minute change to its driver line-up for Rally Sweden after Dani Sordo sustained injuries in a training accident on his mountain bike. The Spaniard will miss the event in order to rest and recover in time for Rally Mexico next month.

Belgians Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) registered a top five finish in Monte-Carlo to get their second season with Hyundai Shell World Rally Team off to a flying start. The duo will be joined by Hayden Paddon and John Kennard, who will now take control of the #8 car instead of the #20. Sweden will be the first of 12 WRC events for the Kiwi crew in 2015 as they look to pick up from where they left off at the end of their maiden season with Hyundai Motorsport.

This second round of the season will also see the team field a third car with Dutchman Kevin Abbring making his competitive debut in Hyundai Motorsport colours. Alongside his British co-driver Sebastian Marshall, Abbring will take charge of the #20 Hyundai i20 WRC in Sweden, and compete under the recently announced Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team banner.

Rally Sweden is the only true winter round of the WRC season with frozen, snowy conditions offering unique challenges for teams and drivers alike. The team carried out a four day test in Sweden in mid-December in order to prepare the developed Hyundai i20 WRC for the team’s second participation in the event. Two additional days were carried out in the region this week with Neuville and Paddon sharing driving duties for half day each and with Abbring testing for one full day.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Rally Sweden was one of the sternest tests for our young team in our maiden season last year. We learned a lot over the course of the event and we will put that experience into practice at next week’s event. We are pleased to field three Hyundai i20 WRC cars for Sweden, although our driver line-up has had to change following Dani’s mountain bike accident earlier in the week. He will miss this event so he can recover from his injuries in time for Mexico and on behalf of the entire team and all the drivers, I wish him a quick recovery. In his place, Hayden and John, who were going to drive the #20 car in Sweden, will now compete in the #8 car. Our test driver Kevin and his co-driver Sebastian will make their debut for the team earlier than planned, driving the #20 car, allowing us to continue with our three-car approach to this event. On the technical side, we have to prepare the Hyundai i20 WRC to cope with the extremely cold conditions. We carried out a test in December, as well as two days this week, in order to prepare ourselves. From the infamous snow banks to sub-zero temperatures and spectacular sights such as Colin’s Crest – which was definitely one of our highlights last year – Rally Sweden is truly unique and we can’t wait to get started.”

Neuville has a best finish of fifth in Sweden, although his final classification in last year’s event masked some impressive performances. The Belgian twice secured the runner-up position in stages which is something he is keen to build on in this year’s event.

Neuville commented: “Rally Sweden is the first and only snow event of the season, which offers special challenges. It is probably the surface on which I have least experience. I have taken part in Rally Sweden on three previous occasions and although I have found it difficult, I have learned more with each visit. For my fourth participation, I am sure can further improve my speed and confidence. If you haven’t become accustomed to driving on such fast roads in these conditions from a young age, it is hard to find a rhythm. I have still set some interesting times and, even last year in our first visit with the Hyundai i20 WRC, we set some second and third quickest stage times, so I hope to improve on that and to be more competitive.”

Paddon made an impressive debut with Hyundai Motorsport in 2014, taking part in six events with the team. With a best result of sixth in Australia and a debut stage win in Spain, the young Kiwi is all set to resume action with Hyundai Motorsport in Sweden.

Paddon said: “It was nice to have a bit of time off back home in New Zealand and to catch up with a few of our partners. We have a pretty big year ahead so it’s nice to be back, refreshed and ready to go. I have only taken part once before in Rally Sweden – three years ago – so it’s still a relatively new event for us. I haven’t really done much snow rallying in the past so it promises to be a fun learning curve. It’s certainly fast and I like that aspect, but the grip levels can be inconsistent, depending on the snowfall before the rally, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m definitely looking forward to it and being part of the Hyundai Motorsport team once again.”

Abbring has never competed in Sweden before so his first event with Hyundai Motorsport will be an important learning curve. He already has some experience with the team which will undoubtedly aid his adaptation to the #20 Hyundai i20 WRC.

Abbring said: I am pleased to have the chance to compete in Rally Sweden with Hyundai Motorsport, which will be a special occasion as it will be my first ever event in a WRC car. Obviously, the circumstances of this opportunity are not ideal and, like everyone else, I send my best wishes to Dani. We have a lot of preparation work to do in order to get up to speed but both Seb and myself will use this event as a learning experience and do all we can to help the team. It will be a bit like jumping in at the deep end but I relish this sort of challenge. Whatever happens, it will be a privilege to represent Hyundai Motorsport and the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team on the WRC stage.

Rally Sweden takes in 21 competitive stages over a distance of 308km. The rally will get underway with Thursday night’s traditional super special in Karlstad. Friday’s itinerary will take in stages in Norway, with crews not visiting the Service Park for midday service, as well as cross-border action on roads not used since 2011. The frozen forests around the Hagfors service part will make up Saturday and include the famous Colin’s Crest in Vargåsen – which was won by Hyundai Motorsport in 2014. The 15.87km Värmullsåsen Power Stage will act as a prelude to Sunday’s final ceremony in Karlstad.

Team Manufacturer: Jipocar Czech National Team / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Pirelli)
21 Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek (CZ)

Team Manufacturer: FWRT s.r.l. / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Pirelli)
43 Lorenzo Bertelli / Giovanni Bernacchini (I)

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Rally Sweden
Pre-event Press Conference
Thursday 12th February

Present:
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Motorsport
Mads Østberg, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Ott Tänak, M-Sport World Rally Team
Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport
Q:
You’ve had such success here over the years, are you feeling confident Jari-Matti?
J-ML:
It’s a rally I really enjoy, I like this event. It’s always nice to come to Värmland, it reminds me of home with all the snow. There are good conditions, although it may be a bit warm right now, but hopefully it will get colder over the night.
Q:
Just one WRC event we have on snow, how much do you enjoy driving here?
J-ML:
It’s a combined event between Sweden and Norway, the only one of its kind in the world. Basically it’s like driving on gravel in Finland, but you have snow on the side, which makes it a bit safer.
Q:
You had a specific goal in Monte-Carlo, which was not to win the rally – what is the tactic here?
J-ML:
Monte Carlo was a tactical race. I only focused on getting the points and ended up in second and it was fantastic. Here you can’t really start driving tactically. Then you don’t fight for the victory. But you also have to think about the championship, so we’ll see how fast it will be.
Q:
If it does snow tonight, how would it be – and if it didn’t, what would be the difference?
J-ML:
At the end of the day, you can’t choose the conditions. You just have to drive according to them, so we’ll see.
Q:
Mads, I’m sensing that you are feeling good, good preparation, good testing – are you feeling good?
MO:
Yeah, definitely. I’m feeling very good. I always look forward to it, but this time it feels a little less serious and more fun. The preparations feels good and we have a really, really good car. It was nice to actually see that what we thought was the best, was the best [at shakedown].
Q:
What’s the difference with the new car you have this weekend?
MO:
We have a new engine, which is a big step forward, and we have the paddle shift and some small aerodynamic changes to the car. We also have new rear geometry. You have to drive the car a bit differently, find some new setups, but for me it feels really good.
Q:
Do you feel good enough to go out there and challenge for the win this weekend?
MO:
I feel good enough to do my absolute best and I believe that my best is enough.
Q:
In terms of the conditions, is there any day that is stronger than the others, in terms on the level of snow on the stages?
MO:
I think to be honest the conditions are pretty similar on the stages. Basically I think it’s down to the weather on the day we are driving.
Q:
How are you feeling ahead of this weekend Ott?
OT:
Last year it was a good feeling to come back, the stages are really nice and fast and flowing. You just enjoy it and when it feels good it’s not that hard to do a good result here.
Q:
In terms of preparation, did your test go well?
OT:
I think we made a really good test, two days testing, quite different conditions on both days. The feedback we had was really good.
Q:
Now that you have returned to the WRC with a manufacturer, do you have a different perspective this time?
OT:
I try to do my best. The support you get from a big team like M-Sport is a really good feeling; the guys are helping us a lot. It’s really nice to be able to drive like this.
Q:
You tell us you’ll be doing your best out there this weekend, does that mean you’ll be challenging for a podium position?
OT:
It’s difficult to say. I don’t like to put too much pressure on myself but I feel really good.
Q:
Welcome to Sweden Hayden. How are you feeling ahead of the weekend?
HP:
We were here 2012. My memories from then obviously aren’t that great but I really enjoy the stages here. Some of the roads on the stages would be my favourite stages in the world if it weren’t for the snow. It’s a really nice rally.
Q:
Before the event, in terms of preparation, what were you able to do?
HP:
Obviously we did some small testing, unfortunately we only were able to do half a day, but we are planning and have goals for the whole season so it’s during the second half of the year we will put the foot down.
Q:
What will be the strategy for this one then?
HP:
These stages will hopefully suit us; we will have to make the most out of this race as possible.
Q:
Scoring manufacturer points, does that put extra pressure upon you?
HP:
Not at all. Our goal is always to finish the rallies first and foremost and it’s the same thing here.
FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP
Present:
Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Pontus Tidemand
Q:
It has already been a busy 2015 for you Yazeed, starting the season at the Dakar – how did you find it there?
YA-R:
It was a long race, not easy to prepare but I was lucky. We did very well, had a very good team but unfortunately we got a technical problem and had to quit the race two days before finish.
Q:
WRC 2 and a full season ahead. But also the Middle East Rally Championship, cross-country events, local events – are you ever going to be home?
YA-R:
Sure we are busy, we do around 24 races so 2015 is a busy year, but it will give us a lot of experience.
Q:
You have won this event in the past – how are you feeling about competing this year?
YA-R:
We are ready to do a good result; hopefully we won’t have any problems. It’s not an easy race here in Sweden, I’ve only done it three times before, but I think we can have a really good result.
Q:
What’s the aim of the season for you Yazeed?
YA-R:
To learn a lot and have a good time to learn everywhere. I want to finish on the podium in every race and hopefully be able to win every race.
Q:
There is strong competition in this category – how do feel you compare to your rivals?
YA-R:
As you say, the competition is very tough, but with our experience now I think we have a good chance of winning.
Q:
Pontus, Rally Sweden I am sure is special for you as your home event, how are feeling ahead of it?
PT:
I feel good. It’s a great competition with a lot of good drivers so we need to be really focused all the way. I think the package we have with the car and the tyres is the strongest of all this week so I’m really looking forward to it.
Q:
Experienced co-driver Emil Axelsson is back beside you in the co-driving seat, you have been partnered before – glad to have him back?
PT:
For sure, Emil has a lot of experience and the aim of the season is to win all of the WRC 2. It is really important to have an experienced co-driver so it feels good to have him back.
Q:
You have tested ahead of the event, how did it go?
PT:
We have been doing two races in Sweden, and then we had the last test Monday. It feels good so we’re happy that the time is finally here.
Q:
What about the rest of the WRC 2 season for you? Will you do a full season?
PT:
We don’t have anything in place yet, but that’s the goal. It will depend on the results as we go along, so every rally is important.
Q:
We hear that the stages are in good condition? What are your thoughts?
PT:
This is my favourite rally; I like the character of the roads. If it gets a little warmer it doesn’t change anything; it’s the same for all of us.
FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP
Present:
Ole-Christian Veiby
Q:
Ole-Christian, we saw you compete in Monte Carlo as part of the Junior WRC and now you are here as the sole WRC3 entrant. Firstly, how did you find Monte?
O-CV:
Monte-Carlo was quite an experience. We came there with no earlier experience from there, we made it to third place and were extremely happy with that.
Q:
What preparations have you been doing ahead of this event?
O-CV:
We don’t have any competition in the WRC 3 here, but we decided to enter anyway because we wanted the experience that it will bring to us. This is my home rally; fans, friends, everyone is here. I’ve been looking forward to this rally for a long time, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Q:
How much experience do you have driving on snow?
O-CV:
Snow is my best surface so far, but I can’t say I have that much experience of it.
Q:
Have you been taking any advice from others before coming here?
O-CV:
I’ve just done the same preparations. I have got a lot of advice from others but I think we’ll just do our own race, try to make a good result and be as fast as possible.

Shakedown, wrc:

Shakedown, bestofrallylive:

Shakedown, Citroën Racing:

Shakedown, Hyundai Motorsport:

Shakedown, Volkswagen Rally:

Shakedown, Rallyelange:

Shakedown, Nacho Villarin Torres:

Shakedown, SwedishRally:

Shakedown, Solowow crash:

Shakedown results:

1. Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 1:59.0
2. Robert Kubica, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1:59.2
3. Mads Østberg, Citroën DS3 WRC, 1:59.2
4. Kris Meeke, Citroën DS3 WRC, 1:59.3
5. Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 1:59.5
6. Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 1:59.9
7. Yuriy Protasov, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:01.9
8. Elfyn Evans, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:02.1
9. Henning Solberg, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:02.3
10.Ott Tänak, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:02.5
11.Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2:03.2
12.Kevin Abbring, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2:04.7
13.Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2:04.8
14.Lorenzo Bertelli, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:06.8
15.Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:07.4
16.Michal Solowow, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:14.4

Leg 1 / Day 1, Thursday 12th February

SS 1S Karlstad 1 1.90 km 20:08

The starting order

Leg 1 / Day 2, Friday 13th February

Service A (Hagfors), 15 min. 7:05
SS 2 Torsby 1 14.76 km 8:29
SS 3 Röjden 1 18.73 km 9:27
SS 4 Finnskogen 1 20.76 km 10:36
SS 5 Kirkenær 1 07.07 km 11:21
Regroup (Kirkenær) 11:41
SS 6 Kirkenær 2 07.07 km 13:27
SS 7 Finnskogen 2 20.76 km 14:19
SS 8 Röjden 2 18.73 km 15:16
SS 9 Torsby 2 14.76 km 16:35
Regroup (Karlstad) 18:26
SS 10S Karlstad 2 01.90 km 19:00
Flexi service B (Hagfors), 45 min. 20:41
Parc fermé (Hagfors) 21:26
Competitive distance: 124.54 km

The starting order:

ORD ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR CL SEED PR
1 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
2 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
3 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Fløene N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi W.R.T. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson N/S 4 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
5 Hyundai Motorsport Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul B 7 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
6 M-Sport World Rally Team Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barrit GB 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
7 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
8 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi W.R.T. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle GB/IRL 3 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
9 Adapta Motorsport AS (M-Sport) Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor N/A 14 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
10 (M-Sport) Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cheperin UA 17 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
11 M-Sport World Rally Team Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
12 FWRT s.r.l. Lorenzo Bertelli / Giovanni Bernacchini I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
13 RK M-Sport World Rally Team Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak PL 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC P1
14 Hyundai Motorsport Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 8 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC P1 M
15 Hyundai Motorsport N Kevin Abbring / Sebastian Marshall NL/GB 20 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC P1 T
16 Synthos Cersanit Rally Team (M-Sport) Michal Sołowow / Maciek Baran PL 18 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
17 Yazeed Racing (MY Racing) Yazeed Al Rajhi / Michael Orr SA/GB 31 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000 P3 WRC2
18 (CA1 Sport) Fredrik Åhlin / Morten Erik Abrahamsen S/N 36 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
19 (PH Sport) Anders Grøndal / Roger Eilertsen N 38 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
20 (M-Sport) Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson S 39 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000 P3 WRC2
21 Drive DMACK Eyvind Brynildsen / Anders Fredriksson N/S 71 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000 P3 WRC2
22 Drive DMACK W.R.T. (Autotek) Jari Ketomaa / Kaj Lindström FIN 40 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
23 Eurolamp World Rally Team (Prodrive) Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 41 MINI John Cooper Works S2000 1.6T RC2 S2000 P3 WRC2
24 Eurolamp World Rally Team (Prodrive) Oleksiyi Kikireshko / Kuldar Sikk UA/EE 42 MINI John Cooper Works S2000 1.6T RC2 S2000 P3 WRC2
25 TAIF Rally Team Radik Shaymiev / Maxim Tsvetkov RUS 43 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
26 C-Rally Jaroslaw Koltun / Ireneusz Pleskot PL 44 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 P3 WRC2
27 Eamonn Boland / M.J. Morrissey IRL 82 Subaru Impreza STi R4 RC2 N4 P3 WRC2
28 Printsport Ole Christian Veiby / Anders Jaeger N 53 Citroën DS3 R3T Maxi RC3 R3T P3 WRC3
29 Motorsport Italia Srl Massimiliano Rendina / Mario Pizzuti I 33 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4 P3 WRC2/PCC
30 Ginaluca Linari / Nicola Arena I 45 Subaru Impreza WRX STi N2012 RC2 N4 P3 WRC2/PCC
31 Napoca Rally Academy Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi I 81 Subaru Impreza WRX STi RC2 N4 P3 WRC2/PCC
32 PH Sport Stephane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot F/B 32 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5 P3
33 (Thunström Motorsport) Robin Friberg / Stefan Gustavsson S 72 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
34 Frank Tore Larsen / Torstein Eriksen N 74 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
35 (Thunström Motorsport) Thomas Thunström / Jörgen Lindahl S 75 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
36 Per Erik Brynildsen / Roy Espen Olsen N 78 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
37 Robert Blomberg / Lars Andersson S 79 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
38 Joakim Roman / Henrik Appelskog S 80 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
39 Gergely Szabó / Károly Borbély H/RO 77 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 RC2 N4
40 (MSC Fürstenzell e.V.) Maximilian Koch / Lisa Brunthaler D 83 Subaru Impreza STi R4 RC2 N4
41 Emil Bergkvist Motor Emil Bergkvist / Joakim Sjöberg S 86 Opel Adam R2 RC4 R2
42 Glenn Ström / Martin Svensson S 84 Škoda Fabia Super 2000 RC2 S2000
43 Joan Font / Oriol Julià Pascual E 85 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
44 Martin Zellhofer / André Kachel A/D 87 Suzuki Swift S1600 RC3 S1600
(PH Sport) Juho Hänninen /Tomi Tuominen FIN 15 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC cancelled entry
E2-Tre Colli World Rally Team Edoardo Bresolin / Rudy Pollet I 46 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 cancelled entry WRC2
(Printsport Racing) Karl Kruuda / Martin Järveoja EE 73 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5 cancelled entry
Mattias Jirvelius / John Stigh S 76 Ford Fiesta S2000 RC2 S2000 cancelled entry
Rally Team GB Louise Cook / Stefan Davis GB 88 Ford Fiesta R2 RC4 R2 cancelled entry
100% SPORT Jean Michel Raoux / Thomas Escartefigue F 89 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5 cancelled entry

The Rally Sweden leaderboard sees Volkswagen, Hyundai and Citroen world rally cars in a tight battle for honours on one of the most spectacular rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship

Volkswagen Motorsport driver Andreas Mikkelsen leapt up the Rally Sweden leaderboard late this afternoon after team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala both went off in the same stage. The Norwegian climbed from third to first in the penultimate stage of the day and heads Hyundai i20 WRC driver Thierry Neuville by 19.1 seconds. In a neck and neck fight, Mads Østberg in the DS 3 WRC is just three tenths of a second further adrift after 10 of the 21 scheduled stages.

Rally Sweden got underway last night with the now traditional super special stage at the Karlstad trotting track and Sweden’s own Pontus Tidemand was a popular winner of this short 1.9 kilometre test in his Ford Fiesta RRC. Today, however, the crews headed into the snowy forests for two identical loops of four stages – three largely based in Norway – before returning to Karlstad for the second and final run around the super special stage. Ogier immediately powered into the lead and by the mid-day re-group, three victories from the first four stages helped him build up a 9.1 second advantage over Latvala. This afternoon, however, the Frenchman lost time with intermittent windscreen wipers and, while trying to fix the problem on a road section, the crew failed to secure the bonnet and were forced to slow in stage 7 when it flew up and cracked the windscreen. While Ogier’s lead over Latvala diminished, the Frenchman remained in control until hitting a snow bank in the final forestry stage, dropping him nearly 40 seconds and three positions. Latvala, winner of two stages, had been matching Ogier’s pace but he too went off the road in the same stage, getting stuck in a ditch and losing over eight minutes and potentially the lead. He plummeted to 23rd as a consequence and team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen – another stage winner – found himself heading the leaderboard of Rally Sweden.

Neuville has climbed from fifth, his improving pace throughout the day being rewarded with a stage win in SS9, but the Belgian and Citroën’s Mads Østberg are in the thick of a battle. Ogier is also only a further 5.3 seconds adrift and behind him, Ott Tanak is fifth in the lead Fiesta RS WRC. The Estonian went off the road in the first stage and his team-mate Elfyn Evans has struggled with confidence and is 10th overall. Hayden Paddon is sixth after a trouble-free day and he heads Martin Prokop, Yurii Protasov and Henning Solberg. After a fine showing during yesterday’s shakedown, Robert Kubica overshot a junction this morning and then plummeted down the leaderboard with a broken propshaft this afternoon.

Results after Section 4

1. Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 1hr 14min 03.6sec
2. Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 WRC, 1hr 14min 22.7sec
3. Mads Østberg, Citroën DS3 WRC, 1hr 14min 23.0sec
4. Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 1hr 14min 28.3sec
5. Ott Tänak, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1hr 15min 09.8sec
6. Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 WRC, 1hr 15min 40.7sec
7. Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1hr 16min 04.1sec
8. Yuriy Protasov, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1hr 16min 15.0sec
9. Henning Solberg, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1hr 16min 21.8sec
10.Elfyn Evans, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 1hr 16min 53.2sec

SS 2: Andreas Mikkelsen hit a hay bale on the long straight and lost all the speed.

SS 2: Ott Tänak made a mistake and hit a snowbank. Had to reverse and lost some time.

SS 2: Kevin Abbring made a mistake and hit a snowbank at the the “Mickey Mouse” section at the end of the stage. He had some fog in his glasses and  got into the lose snow and it dragged they in. Lost 1.30 minutes.

SS 3: Robert Kubica went straight ahead at a junction and had to reverse at a junction. Lost some time.

SS 3: Hayden Paddon went straight ahead at a junction and had to reverse at a junction. Lost some time.

SS 3: Lorenzo Bertelli lost the rear traction. So only front wheel drive. With no service have to drive like this all the day.

SS 3: Anders Grøndal went into the corner, lost the rear and went into the snow. The spectators were able to help them to contine, but lost almost six minutes.

SS 3: Eyvind Brynildsen stalled the engine and lost some time.

SS 4: Sébastien Ogier hit a snow bank in a hairpin and had a a lots of snow packed into the front bumper.

SS 4: Thierry Neuville hit a snow bank on a very fast section and lost some time.

SS 4: Kris Meeke spun into a ditch and lost 25 seconds.

SS 3: Lorenzo Bertelli had a spun and lost some time.

SS 5: Per Erik Brynildsen had a broken steering and went out off the road after the jump. Retired

SS 5: Lorenzo Bertelli had only the front wheel drive during the whole day and decided to retire after the Regroup. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 6: Sébastien Ogier had a windscreen wiper failure and lost some time.

SS 7: Kris Meeke hit a snow bank. Couldn’t find the grip in a corner and went off the road. Lost almost three minutes.

SS 7: Robert Kubica had a broken driveshaft and lost rear-wheel-drive. Lost over two minutes and about six minutes, over three stages.

SS 7: Pontus Tidemand came a little too fast, ended up in a ditch and lost over five minutes.

SS 7: Anders Grøndal had a problem with the turbo pop-off valve and had no boost.

SS 8: Mads Østberg lost some time, because there was a spectator on the the long section and he was a serious distraction.

SS 8: Elfyn Evans couldn’t get stopped for a narrow junction and got stuck in a snow bank. Lost over two minutes.

SS 9: Sébastien Ogier braked too late for a junction, hit a snow bank in a slow corner and got stuck. Lost over 30 seconds.

SS 9: Jari-Matti Latvala was going a bit too fast into a right-hand corner. Saw gravel and expected the grip to be better. The rear hit the snow bank and it pulled in the front. Then the whole car was stuck in the ditch. Lost over eight minutes.

SS 9: Hayden Paddon hit a hay bale and lost the front bumber.

SS 9: Martin Prokop had a problem with the gearbox and lost fourth gear.

SS 9: Yazeed Al Rajhi slid off the line and got stuck in the snow bank. Lost over two minutes.

SS 9: Anders Grøndal hit a snow bank and got stuck. Lost over 14 minutes.

SS 9: Radik Shaymiev hit a snow bank and got stuck. Lost some time.

SS 1-5, wrc:

SS 6-9, wrc:

Leg 1, bestofrallylive:

Leg 1, Citroën Racing:

Leg 1, Hyundai Motorsport:

Leg 1, Volkswagen Rally:

Leg 1, DMACK Tyres:

Leg 1, Passats de Canto:

Leg 1, GHrallyemotion:

Leg 2 / Day 3, Saturday 14th February

Service C (Hagfors), 15 min. 6:05
SS 11 Fredriksberg 1 18.15 km 7:48
SS 12 Rämmen 1 22.76 km 8:37
SS 13 Hagfors Sprint 1 1.87 km 9:24
SS 14 Vargåsen 1 24.63 km 10:08
Regroup (Hagfors) 11:03
Service D (Hagfors), 30 min. 11:28
SS 15 Fredriksberg 2 18.15 km 13:26
SS 16 Rämmen 2 22.76 km 14:15
SS 17 Hagfors Sprint 2 01.87km 15:02
SS 18 Vargåsen 2 24.63km 15:46
Flexi service E (Hagfors), 45 min. 16:51
Parc fermé (Hagfors) 17:36
Competitive distance: 134.82km

The starting order:

ORD ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR CL
1 FWRT s.r.l. Lorenzo Bertelli / Giovanni Bernacchini I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
2 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC
3 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC
4 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Fløene N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC
5 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi W.R.T. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson N/S 4 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC
6 Hyundai Motorsport Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul B 7 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC
7 M-Sport World Rally Team Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barrit GB 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
8 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
9 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi W.R.T. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle GB/IRL 3 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC
10 Adapta Motorsport AS (M-Sport) Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor N/A 14 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
11 (M-Sport) Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cheperin UA 17 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
12 M-Sport World Rally Team Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
13 RK M-Sport World Rally Team Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak PL 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
14 Hyundai Motorsport Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 8 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC
15 Hyundai Motorsport N Kevin Abbring / Sebastian Marshall NL/GB 20 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC
16 Synthos Cersanit Rally Team (M-Sport) Michal Sołowow / Maciek Baran PL 18 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
17 Drive DMACK W.R.T. (Autotek) Jari Ketomaa / Kaj Lindström FIN 40 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
18 Drive DMACK Eyvind Brynildsen / Anders Fredriksson N/S 71 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000
19 Eurolamp World Rally Team (Prodrive) Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 41 MINI John Cooper Works S2000 1.6T RC2 S2000
20 (CA1 Sport) Fredrik Åhlin / Morten Erik Abrahamsen S/N 36 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
21 Yazeed Racing (MY Racing) Yazeed Al Rajhi / Michael Orr SA/GB 31 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000
22 (M-Sport) Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson S 39 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000
23 (PH Sport) Anders Grøndal / Roger Eilertsen N 38 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
24 C-Rally Jaroslaw Koltun / Ireneusz Pleskot PL 44 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
25 Printsport Ole Christian Veiby / Anders Jaeger N 53 Citroën DS3 R3T Maxi RC3 R3T
26 Eurolamp World Rally Team (Prodrive) Oleksiyi Kikireshko / Kuldar Sikk UA/EE 42 MINI John Cooper Works S2000 1.6T RC2 S2000
27 TAIF Rally Team Radik Shaymiev / Maxim Tsvetkov RUS 43 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
28 Ginaluca Linari / Nicola Arena I 45 Subaru Impreza WRX STi N2012 RC2 N4
29 Napoca Rally Academy Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi I 81 Subaru Impreza WRX STi RC2 N4
30 Eamonn Boland / M.J. Morrissey IRL 82 Subaru Impreza STi R4 RC2 N4
31 Motorsport Italia Srl Massimiliano Rendina / Mario Pizzuti I 33 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
32 PH Sport Stephane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot F/B 32 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
33 (Thunström Motorsport) Robin Friberg / Stefan Gustavsson S 72 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
34 (Thunström Motorsport) Thomas Thunström / Jörgen Lindahl S 75 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
35 Emil Bergkvist Motor Emil Bergkvist / Joakim Sjöberg S 86 Opel Adam R2 RC4 R2
36 Joakim Roman / Henrik Appelskog S 80 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
37 Robert Blomberg / Lars Andersson S 79 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
38 Martin Zellhofer / André Kachel A/D 87 Suzuki Swift S1600 RC3 S1600
39 Glenn Ström / Martin Svensson S 84 Škoda Fabia Super 2000 RC2 S2000
40 Joan Font / Oriol Julià Pascual E 85 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
41 (MSC Fürstenzell e.V.) Maximilian Koch / Lisa Brunthaler D 83 Subaru Impreza STi R4 RC2 N4
42 Gergely Szabó / Károly Borbély H/RO 77 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 RC2 N4
43 (Autotek) Per Erik Brynildsen / Roy Espen Olsen N 78 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5

Split by less than 10 seconds, Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Sebastien Ogier have set the scene for a sensational fight for victory in Rally Sweden

Hyundai i20 WRC driver Thierry Neuville catapulted himself into the lead of Rally Sweden this evening and heads a thrilling three-way battle for victory in the second round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The young Belgian is a mere 1.5 seconds ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who lost his lead on the final stage, while Volkswagen team-mate Sébastien Ogier – who was expected to mount a big come-back today – is third, a further 8.1 seconds adrift.

Today’s route was more familiar to the crews and took them over two identical loops of four stages split by a mid-day service in Hagfors. Neuville, second last night, has been pushing hard all day, despite being handicapped by the weight disadvantage of running with two spare wheels when his rivals only had one. However, it was this that ultimately powered him into the lead, as he was able to use fresh rubber in the final stage to claim his second fastest stage time and the overall advantage. Mikkelsen has been impressive too, but the Norwegian’s two mistakes during the day saw his lead increase and decrease in equal measures. An encounter with a ditch as well as a spin enabled Ogier to close the gap but the reigning World Champion struggled with the road conditions at the front of the field this afternoon and was unable to mount a serious assault on the lead. The three Hyundai and Volkswagen drivers are however split by just 9.6 seconds this evening and have set the scene for a great battle over Sunday’s closing three stages and 46.74 competitive kilometres

Behind the leading trio, Mads Østberg suffered early disappointment when he ran wide, hit a bank and sustained a puncture in the opening stage, dropping himself behind Ogier into fourth position and out of the intense fight for the podium positions. He is 35.8 seconds ahead of fifth placed Ott Tanak and Hayden Paddon has held off Martin Prokop to maintain sixth. Prokop had a bad landing on the nose of the car this afternoon but has otherwise escaped unscathed. Elfyn Evans has had another improving day and the Welshman has moved from 10th last night to eighth, also benefiting with a more advantageous road position. Kris Meeke has similarly had a better day and also set his first-ever fastest stage time on snow. He is ninth but ready to overhaul the four-tenths of a second deficit to Evans. Yuriy Protasov rounds off the top 10, the Ukrainian having been off the road earlier in the day.

Results after Section 6

1. Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2hr 29min 54.5sec
2. Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2hr 29min 56.0sec
3. Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2hr 30min 04.1sec
4. Mads Østberg, Citroën DS3 WRC, 2hr 30min 47.9sec
5. Ott Tänak, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 31min 23.7sec
6. Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2hr 32min 30.2sec
7. Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 32min 57.6sec
8. Elfyn Evans, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 33min 16.6sec
9. Kris Meeke, Citroën DS3 WRC, 2hr 33min 17.0sec
10.Yuriy Protasov, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 34min 14.1sec

SS 11: Mads Østberg hit a snow bank and had a rear left puncture. Lost over 40 seconds.

SS 11: Henning Solberg hit a snow bank and got stuck. Lost over five minutes.

SS 12: Andreas Mikkelsen were in a ditch near and end and filled the front with snow.

SS 13: Yuriy Protasov slid off the road and got stuck in the snow bank. Lost over 20 seconds.

SS 14: Jari-Matti Latvala spun, hit a snow bank and got stuck. Lost over 40 seconds.

SS 14: Andreas Mikkelsen touched a bank, spun and had to reverse. Lost almost 20 seconds.

SS 14: Lorenzo Bertelli slid off the road and got stuck in the snow bank. Retired -> Rally 2

SS 14: Valeriy Gorban was off the road 6.3km into the stage and got stuck in the snow bank. Lost over three minutes.

SS 15: Thomas Thunström went out off the road and got stuck in the snow bank. Lost over 11 minutes.

SS 16: Kevin Abbring misjudged the entry to a T-junction and got stuck on a snow bank. Lost over 1.30 minutes.

SS 18: Robert Kubica said that the studs had disappeared. Cut one corner too much and the snow banks pulled in. Had to reverse twice and lost about 20 seconds.

Colin´s Crest: Thierry Neuville 44 m

SS 10-14, wrc:

SS 15-18, wrc:

Leg 2, bestofrallylive:

Leg 2, Citroën Racing:

Leg 2, Hyundai Motorsport:

Leg 2, Volkswagen Rally:

Leg 2, DMACK Tyres:

Leg 3 / Day 4, Sunday 15th February

Service F (Hagfors), 15 min. 7:40
SS 19 Lesjöfors 15.00 km 8:57
SS 20 Värmullsåsen 1 15.87 km 9:48
Service G (Hagfors), 30 min. 10:31
Regroup (Hagfors) 11:01
SS 21P Värmullsåsen 2 15.87 km 12:08
Service H (Hagfors), 10 min. 12:56
Podium Cermony (Main Square Karlstad) 83.38 15:00
Competitive distance: 46.76km

The starting order:

ORD ENTRANT (TEAM) DRIVER/CODRIVER NAT. NR CAR GR CL
1 FWRT s.r.l. Lorenzo Bertelli / Giovanni Bernacchini I 37 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
2 Volkswagen Motorsport Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila FIN 2 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC
3 RK M-Sport World Rally Team Robert Kubica / Maciej Szczepaniak PL 16 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
4 Adapta Motorsport AS (M-Sport) Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor N/A 14 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
5 Synthos Cersanit Rally Team (M-Sport) Michal Sołowow / Maciek Baran PL 18 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
6 Hyundai Motorsport N Kevin Abbring / Sebastian Marshall NL/GB 20 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC
7 (M-Sport) Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cheperin UA 17 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
8 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi W.R.T. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle GB/IRL 3 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC
9 M-Sport World Rally Team Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barrit GB 5 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
10 Jipocar Czech National Team Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek CZ 21 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
11 Hyundai Motorsport Hayden Paddon / John Kennard NZ 8 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC
12 M-Sport World Rally Team Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder EE 6 Ford Fiesta RS WRC RC1 WRC
13 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi W.R.T. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson N/S 4 Citroën DS3 WRC RC1 WRC
14 Volkswagen Motorsport Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia F 1 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC
15 Volkswagen Motorsport II Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Fløene N 9 Volkswagen Polo R WRC RC1 WRC
16 Hyundai Motorsport Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul B 7 Hyundai i20 WRC RC1 WRC
17 Drive DMACK W.R.T. (Autotek) Jari Ketomaa / Kaj Lindström FIN 40 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
18 Drive DMACK Eyvind Brynildsen / Anders Fredriksson N/S 71 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000
19 (CA1 Sport) Fredrik Åhlin / Morten Erik Abrahamsen S/N 36 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
20 Eurolamp World Rally Team (Prodrive) Valeriy Gorban / Volodymyr Korsia UA 41 MINI John Cooper Works S2000 1.6T RC2 S2000
21 Yazeed Racing (MY Racing) Yazeed Al Rajhi / Michael Orr SA/GB 31 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000
22 (M-Sport) Pontus Tidemand / Emil Axelsson S 39 Ford Fiesta RRC RC2 S2000
23 (PH Sport) Anders Grøndal / Roger Eilertsen N 38 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
24 Printsport Ole Christian Veiby / Anders Jaeger N 53 Citroën DS3 R3T Maxi RC3 R3T
25 C-Rally Jaroslaw Koltun / Ireneusz Pleskot PL 44 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
26 Eurolamp World Rally Team (Prodrive) Oleksiyi Kikireshko / Kuldar Sikk UA/EE 42 MINI John Cooper Works S2000 1.6T RC2 S2000
27 Napoca Rally Academy Simone Tempestini / Matteo Chiarcossi I 81 Subaru Impreza WRX STi RC2 N4
28 TAIF Rally Team Radik Shaymiev / Maxim Tsvetkov RUS 43 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
29 Ginaluca Linari / Nicola Arena I 45 Subaru Impreza WRX STi N2012 RC2 N4
30 Eamonn Boland / M.J. Morrissey IRL 82 Subaru Impreza STi R4 RC2 N4
31 Motorsport Italia Srl Massimiliano Rendina / Mario Pizzuti I 33 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
32 PH Sport Stephane Lefebvre / Stéphane Prévot F/B 32 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
33 (Thunström Motorsport) Robin Friberg / Stefan Gustavsson S 72 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
34 Emil Bergkvist Motor Emil Bergkvist / Joakim Sjöberg S 86 Opel Adam R2 RC4 R2
35 Robert Blomberg / Lars Andersson S 79 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
36 Joakim Roman / Henrik Appelskog S 80 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5
37 (Thunström Motorsport) Thomas Thunström / Jörgen Lindahl S 75 Citroën DS3 R5 RC2 R5
38 Glenn Ström / Martin Svensson S 84 Škoda Fabia Super 2000 RC2 S2000
39 Joan Font / Oriol Julià Pascual E 85 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X RC2 N4
40 Martin Zellhofer / André Kachel A/D 87 Suzuki Swift S1600 RC3 S1600
41 Gergely Szabó / Károly Borbély H/RO 77 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 RC2 N4
42 (Autotek) Per Erik Brynildsen / Roy Espen Olsen N 78 Ford Fiesta R5 RC2 R5

Rally Sweden goes down to the wire with a sensational three-way battle for honours between Ogier, Neuville and Mikkelsen

In a thrilling final stage showdown, reigning FIA World Rally Champions Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia clinched victory in Rally Sweden, the second round of the series. The duo were locked in a three-way battle for outright honours during the day, but overhauled overnight leaders Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul to claim the win by 6.4 seconds. Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Floene looked set to take their first-ever WRC victory, leading by three seconds going into the final stage. However, the Norwegians spun, lost over 40 seconds and dropped from first to third.

In the FIA World Rally Championship, Ogier has extended his lead and takes a 23 point advantage into the first gravel round of the season in three weeks’ time. Neuville and Mikkelsen are equal on points behind the Frenchman with Jari-Matti Latvala in fourth. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, two victories from two events keeps Volkswagen Motorsport at the top of the leaderboard, albeit only 13 points ahead of Hyundai Motorsport.

Today’s route covered just three stages and 46.74 competitive kilometres but the scene was set for an epic battle to the finish line. With the leading trio split by less than 10 seconds last night, there was everything to play for as the crews powered their cars over the frozen snow-covered forestry stages. Neuville, who led by a mere 1.5 seconds last night, hit problems in the first stage when the driver/co-driver intercom failed and he hit a snow bank and lost his lead to Mikkelsen. He was then overhauled by Ogier in the following stage and the trio went into the final live television stage split by just 4.6 seconds, Mikkelsen with the advantage. Flat-out, Ogier claimed the Power Stage victory when Mikkelsen spun, sealing him the Rally Sweden win in this final stage.

Behind the podium battle, Ott Tanak claimed a fine fourth. The Estonian struggled early in the event but gained in confidence stage by stage and moved from fifth to fourth this morning when Mads Østberg spun following a problem with the handbrake. He finished 10th. New Zealander Hayden Paddon also put in an impressive performance to take fifth – his best WRC result – and Elfyn Evans won the battle with Kris Meeke to take sixth overall. Their close fight came to an end when Meeke hit a snowbank in the final stage. Martin Prokop was happy to claim eighth – despite a half roll this morning – ahead of Yuriy Protasov.

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Jari Ketomaa and Kaj Lindstrom took honours in their Ford Fiesta R5, and Ole Christian Veiby and Anders Jaeger won the FIA WRC 3 Championship category in a Citroën DS 3.

The third round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders to the Americas and the oxygen-sapping mountains of Rally Guanajuato Mexico (5-8 March).

Final Results

1. Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2hr 55min 30.5sec
2. Thierry Neuville, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2hr 55min 36.9sec
3. Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2hr 56min 10.3sec
4. Ott Tänak, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 57min 56.5sec
5. Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2hr 59min 02.0sec
6. Elfyn Evans, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 59min 23.5sec
7. Kris Meeke, Citroën DS3 WRC, 2hr 59min 36.3sec
8. Martin Prokop, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2hr 59min 56.5sec
9. Yuriy Protasov, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 3hr 01min 02.7sec
10.Mads Østberg, Citroën DS3 WRC, 3hr 02min 21.4sec

SS 19: Mads Østberg  tried to use the handbrake and it locked all four wheels. Went out off the road 6 km into the stage and got stuck in the snow bank. Lost over 5 minutes.

SS 20: Michal Sołowow got stuck in the snow bank. Retired

SS 20: Martin Prokop went out off the road and the car went on its side, but was able to got out of the snow bank. Lost over 2o seconds.

SS 20: Fredrik Åhlin touched the page button on the steering wheel by mistake, and that changed the dash display from gear to fuel level. He came into a corner a gear too high, the engine bogged down, had no power and went off into a bank. Lost over two minutes.

SS 21: Kris Meeke touched the rear and it sucked in the front. Lost over 20 seconds.

SS 21: Andreas Mikkelsen touched a snow bank and got stuck. Lost over 40 seconds.

SS 19-20, wrc:

SS 21, wrc:

Review, wrc:

Leg 3, bestofrallylive:

Leg 3, Citroën Racing:

Leg 3, Hyundai Motorsport:

Leg 3, Volkswagen Rally:

Leg 3, DMACK Tyres:

Best of, SwedishRally:

Best of, Tor Andre Børresen:

FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers (after 2 of 13 rounds) 
Sébastien Ogier (FRA) 50 points
Thierry Neuville (BEL) 30 points
Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) 30 points
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) 19 points
Mads Østberg (NOR) 14 points
Elfyn Evans (GBR) 14 points
Ott Tanak 12 points
Hayden Paddon 10 points
Kris Meeke (GBR) 10 points
Dani Sordo (ESP) 8 points
Martin Prokop (CZE) 6 points
Sébastien Loeb (FRA) 6 points
Yuriy Protasov (UKR) 2 points
FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers (after 2 of 13 rounds)
Volkswagen Motorsport 68 points
Hyundai Motorsport 55 points
M-Sport World Rally Team 32 points
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team 20 points
Volkswagen Motorsport II 15 points
Jipocar Czech National Team 10 points
FWRT srl 1 point
Hyundai Motorsport N 1 point

Team Reviews:

Manufacturers: Volkswagen Motorsport / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
1 Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (F)
2 Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (FIN)

Team Manufacturer: Volkswagen Motorsport II / Volkswagen Polo R WRC (Michelin)
9 Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Fløene (N)

It is a long time since we last witnessed such an exciting finale! The battle for the win at the Rally Sweden came down to the very last few metres: Sébastien Ogier is the beaming winner. The world champion pulled a rabbit out of the hat on the final Power Stage (Värmullsåsen 2) to clock an outstanding fastest time in the Scandinavian snow. In doing so he not only clinched overall victory, but also picked up three bonus points towards the World Championship. The Frenchman benefitted from the misfortune of his team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, who led going into the final special stage before dropping crucial seconds following a spin late on in the stage. It was a shame for the young Norwegian, who could virtually smell victory and had performed brilliantly throughout the entire rally. His only consolation was a fine third place overall.

Runner-up was Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, who set the second fastest time on the Power Stage to score two bonus points.

There was but one option open to Sébastien Ogier en route to victory in Sweden: all-out attack.

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Jost Capito saw it coming. “The last special stage is not about the car,” he said before the start of the final stage. “This will come down to mental strength alone.” And, in this regard at least, world champion Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) appears still to have the upper hand on Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9). “It was quite simple, really,” said the winner of the Rally Sweden. “We had been in all-out attack mode for the entire rally. We couldn’t have pushed any harder.” However, long after crossing the finish line, Ogier still had the utmost respect for the performance of his younger team-mate. “Andreas drove a fantastic rally. I feel sorry for him that it did not quite work out this time. However, I am sure that will not be the last time we are fighting it out for victory in the WRC.”

Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Fløene were understandably disappointed. “Sometimes I hate our sport,” said Fløene, while Mikkelsen tried to focus on the positive aspects of the weekend. “It was a new experience for me, to lead the rally with the chasing pack behind me. I learned a lot from it.” Jost Capito was also full of praise. “Andreas handled himself like a real racer. He fought for the win and was not happy to sit back and settle for second place.” The Volkswagen Motorsport Director singled out another reason for Ogier eventually emerging triumphant: “Seb would not have liked to have been beaten by a team-mate in last year’s car.”

Jari-Matti Latvala was ranked twelfth in the third Polo R WRC after the final special stage. However, the Finn opted not to complete the rally and is thus not included in the official result. The background to this is the so-called linking of several WRC rounds with regard to the use of certain technical components (e.g. gearbox, differential, drive shafts). In Latvala’s case, the rally in Sweden was originally linked to Mexico and Argentina. However, the rules state that, because he did not officially finish the Rally Sweden, he can now use other components at the forthcoming Rally Mexico at the start of March.

Together with his start position, this should prove to be an advantage for Latvala. The early start positions are a big disadvantage on the special stages around Leon, which are usually very dusty. As such, the Finn goes into the rally as the favourite to win – as the fourth-placed driver in the World Championship, Latvala starts after Sébastien Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai).

Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“An unbelievable finale. I am incredibly proud of this win. It is certainly one of my best. The first victory in Sweden two years ago, when I beat Sébastien Loeb, was fantastic, but this was even harder-fought. Julien and I gave everything here, from day one right through to the Power Stage. We drove as hard as possible, and it paid off in the end. It was certainly one of the most thrilling and exciting ends to a rally – not just for the fans, but also of my career. I obviously feel sorry for Andreas, who came so close to his first win and was involved in an extremely intense battle with us. However, I am sure that this is not the last time we will be duelling for victory. He and Thierry Neuville produced impressive performances.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“What a crazy week. It is a shame for my team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen that he was not quite able to get his first WRC victory under his belt. And congratulations to Sébastien Ogier. He really earned his 28 points. For me personally, I have to try to take positives out of the week. Once I made that mistake on Friday, I was obviously not going to have a say in the outcome of the rally. This gave me time to try out a few things with the set-up, and I learned some knew and important things as a result. I now understand the new Polo even better, and that was already noticeable today. The season is still young, and there is still everything to play for. My starting position will certainly be an advantage in Mexico, and I will attack again there.”

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“We did our utmost right up until the final metre – but unfortunately lost out in the end. I never dreamed that I might one day be disappointed with a podium finish. After all, I have not won all that much yet in my career. However, I had the chance to clinch my maiden WRC victory and came very close to doing so. But I made a slight mistake, spun, and missed out on this opportunity. That is very bitter and very disappointing at the moment, although we can be proud of what we have achieved over the course of the week. However, I am certain that it is only a matter of time until I get my first win. Having said that, I would have loved to have come out on top in this thrilling three-way battle. We will now do our very best to put ourselves back in contention again in Mexico.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport-Direktor
“What an exciting rally. I am sure that the World Rally Championship has won a lot of fans around the world this week. Today, the podium positions were genuinely decided in the final metres. Andreas Mikkelsen led until the final split, and came within a whisker of his first victory in the World Championship. He really pushed our double world champion Sébastien Ogier and his friend Thierry Neuville to the limit and can be proud of his performance. His time will come sooner or later, there is no doubting that. Sébastien Ogier produced an incredibly impressive display, particularly from a mental point of view, and fully deserved to win in the end. I take my hat off to the drivers and co-drivers.”

Manufacturers: Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team / Citroën DS3 WRC (Michelin)
3 Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (GB/IRL)
4Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (N/S)

Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson ended Rally Sweden in the top 10 to score important points at this early stage of the 2015 season. The two Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team crews will change continent for the next round of the WRC calendar. Rally Mexico will be held on 5-8 March.

This morning’s final leg of Rally Sweden featured three timed stages. Fourth overall at the start of the day, Mads Østberg ran into trouble on Lesjöfors. He lost control of his DS 3 WRC, got stuck in a snow bank and it took him over five minutes to get going again.

He dropped down to tenth overall, whilst his team-mate Kris Meeke moved in the opposite direction. Ninth overall as he left parc ferme, the Briton was up to eighth after SS19 and was seventh by the end of SS20.

On the Power Stage, Kris continued to push. Involved in a scrap for sixth place with Elfyn Evans, he span midway through the stage but managed to hold onto seventh position. Mads Østberg set the third fastest time on the final stage to collect a bonus point for the Drivers’ Championship, in addition to the one he scored for finishing tenth overall.

In the WRC3, Ole-Christian Veiby won the category in his DS 3 R3-MAX. The Norwegian now leads the two-wheel drive championship.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “The racing incidents, the handful of technical problems we had and the mistakes made by our drivers mean that the result is a long way off the targets set by the team at the start. We’ll take a closer look at what happened at this event in order prepare for Rally Mexico as effectively as possible. Everyone is still very motivated. And it’s just the start of the season!”

Mads Østberg: “We are going to turn our attention very quickly to Rally Mexico. We have to hold onto the positive aspects from Sweden and forget the rest. But even with our problems, we were capable of fighting for a podium spot here.”

Kris Meeke: “In Sweden, you have to be very clean through the stages, but I got caught out a few times. Nevertheless, winning a stage on only my second appearance here on the snow is a fairly encouraging sign. My pace has improved significantly compared with last year. I feel comfortable in the DS 3 WRC. I have to keep doing the same thing and cut out the errors. In Mexico, we have to get to the end of the rally without any mistakes.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED

SS19 – Lesjöfors (15.00km) – The crews set off in the reverse order of the overall standings for the rally. Fourth-placed Mads Østberg ran into a snow bank and got stuck, losing over five minutes. Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville. Mikkelsen moved back into the overall lead, ahead of Neuville and Ogier, with just 6.8 seconds between the top three drivers.

SS20 – Värmullsåsen 1 (15.87km) – Second in the running order, Jari-Matti Latvala went fastest on the first run on Värmullsåsen. Ogier finished ahead of his rivals Mikkelsen and Neuville. Before the Power Stage, Mikkelsen was still in front, 3.0 seconds ahead of Ogier and 4.6 seconds ahead of Neuville. Mads Østberg set the fifth fastest time, whilst Kris Meeke finished seventh to move past Martin Prokop into seventh overall.

SS21 – Värmullsåsen 2 (Power Stage) (15.87km) – As he pushed to try and grab sixth position and score a few extra points, Kris Meeke span his car and had to settle for seventh place overall. At the front, Sébastien Ogier won the rally by setting the fastest time on the final stage, whilst Andreas Mikkelsen got caught in a snow bank and dropped down to third place. Thierry Neuville and Mads Østberg collected the other bonus points.

Manufacturers: M-Sport World Rally Team / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Michelin)
5 Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barrit (GB)
6 Ott Tänak / Raigo Mölder (EE)
14 Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor (N/A)
17 Yuriy Protasov / Pavlo Cheperin (UA) Pirelli

M-Sport World Rally Team’s Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans showcased the determination that will see them go far at this weekend’s Rally Sweden. Overcoming earlier issues, the pairing recovered strongly to secure fourth and sixth place overall.

Having lost 20 seconds caught in a snow bank on the first forest stage (SS2), Tänak and co-driver Raigo Mõlder spent much of the weekend rebuilding their confidence amidst the worst of the road conditions.

Refusing to give up the fight, the Estonians combined a never-up-give attitude with flashes of speed. The pairing posted the second fastest time through the second pass of yesterday’s Hagfors Sprint (SS17), and remained as determined as ever to finish the event.

Their determination paid off. Keeping their heads down and their Ford Fiesta RS WRC clear of the pitfalls synonymous with the Swedish stages, the Estonians prospered where those around them faltered to bring home a strong result for the team.

In the sister M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC, Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt displayed a vast increase in speed from this time twelve months ago – proving that they have the pace to challenge within the top-five on snow.

Were it not for an encounter with the snow banks through the second pass of Röjden (SS8) which cost them almost two minutes to the leading pack, they would have been within sight of a podium position.

Despite ruing Friday’s error of judgement, Evans found himself in an intense battle for sixth place on the final stage of the rally (SS21). Locked in a thrilling duel with Kris Meeke, the Welshman came out on top – winning the battle of the Brits, claiming sixth place overall and propelling himself and Barritt into sixth place in the FIA World Rally Championship driver and co-driver standings.

Ott Tänak (4th) said:

“I’m really happy to have come away with fourth position. We struggled in the beginning – the road position wasn’t great and I made a little mistake early on. After that we weren’t really in any sort of a battle so we just had to play it smart and stay on the road – and here we are with a really strong result.

“It was good to regain the confidence. Now we can look to build the speed step-by-step and when we have a strong feeling we can push a bit more. A few more rallies like this and we can look to up the pace so that is really good for the future. I am sure that we can be stronger as the season progresses.”

Elfyn Evans (6th) said:

“It’s been an event of two halves. We made a mistake which cost us a lot of time on Friday and we struggled to find the confidence at times, but generally I think we’ve learnt a lot and we were able to show some pretty good pace towards the end.

“We only do one snow rally a year and this is only my second so it all bodes well for the future. I’m really pleased with the progress we were able to show here and I think we’ve proved our potential on this surface. On the whole, I think we did a good job.

“I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and we had a great battle with Kris [Meeke] today. From yesterday afternoon onwards I really enjoyed the driving. We had a good feeling in the car and everything just came together as it should.”

Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:

“It was fantastic to see Ott [Tänak] and Elfyn [Evans] fight back to what was a strong result for the team. It’s fair to say that neither felt particularly comfortable at the beginning of the event, but they never gave up. They’ve both got a real determination and we saw it here again.

“They are also both very intelligent drivers. They knew their limits, and were able to stick to them for the most part. They’ve both learnt a tremendous amount this weekend and I was particularly impressed by how much progression Elfyn was able to show on what is only his second ever snow rally.

“It all bodes well for the future and after this result I am sure that they will both head to Mexico with their confidence that little bit higher.”

ADDITIONAL M-SPORT DRIVERS

Yuriy Protasov (9th) said:

“This is a really good result for us. The stages were really fast and tricky and we didn’t have everything right all of the time, but when it was good, it was really good – and it was great to score my first fastest time. We have learnt so much and we are really happy.”

Henning Solberg (13th) said:

“It’s not been the best Rally Sweden for us. We’ve had a few issues throughout the event but I promise you that we will come back stronger!”

Pontus Tidemand (5th WRC2) said:

“It started so well but unfortunately we made a mistake on SS7 that cost us more than five minutes and any chance of fighting for the victory. After that it was just a case of driving as fast as we could and enjoying the fantastic Swedish stages.

“We have to take every positive that we can away from this weekend. I think we proved that we have good pace and everything apart from the mistake was perfect. If you took away that mistake then the result would have been really good so we just need to focus on that and move on to the next one.”

Manufacturers: Hyundai Motorsport / Hyundai i20 WRC (Michelin)
7 Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (B)
8 Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (E)

Team Manufacturer: Hyundai Motorsport / Hyundai i20 WRC (Michelin)
20 Kevin Abbring / Sebastian Marshall (NL/GB)

Hyundai Motorsport has scored a fantastic podium with Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul finishing second and playing a key part in an exhilarating battle for Rally Sweden victory.

The Hyundai Motorsport team will step onto the WRC podium for the fourth time in its short history as Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) stormed to second place in Rally Sweden, round two of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The result sees Hyundai Motorsport consolidate second in the Manufacturers’ Championship with 55 points, while Neuville also took two Power Stage points for finishing second in the final stage of the rally. He resides second in the Drivers’ Championship on 30 points.

The team has been in the thick of the action from the outset of the 21-stage rally, with Neuville firmly among the pace setters all weekend. The victory fight went right down the final Power Stage with 4.6 seconds separating the trio of contenders heading into the last 15.87km stage.

Neuville took the first stage win of the season for the team on Friday and was placed second at the end of the opening day. He then added a further two stages wins in Saturday’s SS15 (Fredriksberg 18.15km) and SS18 (Vargåsen) to sensationally take the lead as the penultimate day came to an end. In Saturday’s final stage, he also jumped 44m to break the legendary Colin’s Crest Award record. The Belgian adopted a measured approach to Sunday morning’s stages to ensure he kept fully in the hunt for the victory right to the end, and the runner-up position was well deserved.

Neuville said: “What a rally this has been! We have not had such a close battle for the victory for a long time and it has been great to be a part of such a thrilling finale. Nobody really expected us to be challenging for the win here, so it has been a brilliant performance. Of course, I pushed hard to get the win, taking quite a few risks, and I could honestly not have done more. A second place is still a very nice result for me and for everyone in the team, who have worked hard.”

Hayden Paddon (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) has had a strong start to his second season as part of the Hyundai Motorsport line-up. Fifth place is the New Zealander’s best result in the World Rally Championship, one place higher than his previous best with the team (2014 Rally Australia). Alongside co-driver John Kennard, Paddon has adapted his driving style this weekend to suit the characteristics of the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC and the unique challenges posed by the wintry Swedish stages. His fifth place secures 10 manufacturer points as part of the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.

Paddon commented: “It’s been a good rally for us overall and very important to gain the experience in these demanding winter conditions. After finishing Friday’s stages in sixth overall, we’ve looked at cementing that position and building up a buffer. We have had to work a lot on adapting the driving style to the set-up of the car and to the special requirements of these stages. I am pleased with how we have tackled this rally and the improvements we’ve made. We’ve definitely had some good moments – as well as some struggles – but to finish in the top five is a really good result and scores some important points for the team in the Manufacturer’s Championship. I think we’ve achieved all we could and it’s definitely a good base on which to build for Mexico.”

Rally Sweden weekend has been a valuable learning curve for Kevin Abbring (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) as he acclimatised to the #20 Hyundai i20 WRC car, and the rigours of a full World Rally event. Scoring 11th in his debut event for the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team is a great result for the young Dutchman. The added complication of Sweden’s unforgiving snowy and icy conditions means that Abbring and his British co-driver Seb Marshall can reflect on a highly positive event overall.

Kevin Abbring said: “This is an event I certainly won’t forget in a hurry and I am really happy to have finished my first event in the Hyundai i20 WRC. It has been an incredible experience and a real privilege to have tackled these tough Rally Sweden stages. They definitely demand respect. I have built my confidence throughout the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We’ve had a few moments, which is to be expected in our first event on these conditions, and we lacked rhythm in the pace notes in places, but there are so many positives to take away. The team has been exceptional and have helped me and Seb to find our feet quickly. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the car in my next WRC event.”

For the Hyundai Motorsport team, Rally Sweden has been an excellent event with competitive performances from all three cars. The progress made by the team compared to the same event one year ago is testament to the hard work put in by the entire team, both at the rally and back at the team’s Alzenau factory. Today’s second place marks the fourth WRC event with a podium (Mexico, Poland and Germany 2014) and the first event of the season with a three-car finish. The team can also reflect on three stage wins this weekend, as well as leading the rally, all of which makes for an event to remember!

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “This podium is a great result for everyone at Hyundai Motorsport. Our performance level has been encouraging although, at the same time, it is important for us to recognise that there is still a lot of work to do. Thierry has been on exceptional pace this weekend and this second place has been very well earned. Obviously, we benefitted from the misfortune of Andreas in the Power Stage but that is not to take anything away from Thierry’s performance, which was superb. We’ve been in the mix all weekend and to be part of a spectacular finale is very special. A podium, two Power Stage points and second place in both Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Championships makes for very nice reading!”

“Hayden has also registered his first top five finish with the team – in his first WRC event of the season – a highly commendable result. Kevin has also exceeded our expectations here with a mature rally. He has kept his head down, worked hard and delivered a classified finish just outside of the top ten. I would like to extend a huge thanks to the entire team – both in Sweden and back at Alzenau. It’s not been a straightforward rally and they have shown an immense professionalism of which we can all be very proud.”

Team Manufacturer: Jipocar Czech National Team / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Pirelli)
21 Martin Prokop / Jan Tománek (CZ)

Team Manufacturer: FWRT s.r.l. / Ford Fiesta RS WRC (Pirelli)
43 Lorenzo Bertelli / Giovanni Bernacchini (I)

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
Rally Sweden
Post-event Press Conference
Sunday 15th February

Present:

1st – Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Motorsport
1st – Julien Ingrassia, Volkswagen Motorsport
2nd – Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport
2nd – Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai Motorsport
3rd – Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Motorsport
3rd – Ola Floene, Volkswagen Motorsport
Jost Capito, Team Principal, Volkswagen Motorsport

Q:
Sébastien, what an incredible battle through three days of competition! Is this the hardest fight for the win you have ever had?
SO:
It feels great of course. It’s been a very, very exciting weekend. I knew I had to take some risks to be able to win so I pushed hard all the way.

Q:
The final stage is where we saw the rally won. What were your thoughts going into that?
SO:
I’ve had some similar situations before, but today it was somehow easier to manage because I knew we had to go flat out. I drove as fast as I could, and of course I understand the frustration for Andreas but I’m sure his victory will come soon.

Q:
Did you enjoy this year’s rally?
SO:
It was a very exciting weekend, I’m sure for everyone. When we need to push like this we all love to drive. It’s great for the show, it’s great for the fans but I hope the next one is not like this!

Q:
Julien, congratulations – a tough challenge and a huge battle, how would you sum up the weekend?
JI:
Of course it’s the same thing from a co driver’s perspective, no mistakes are allowed. But I had time to enjoy all the stages here in Rally Sweden.

Q:
Thierry, you leave Sweden with second position – but going into the final stage no one was sure which position any of you would walk away with. Happy with the result?
TN:
It’s okay, it’s a good feeling for me. We were very strong and they (Volkswagen) are hard to beat. I tried to avoid mistakes and I managed to only lose like 15 seconds on those mistakes the whole weekend.

Q:
At one point Nicolas, your co-driver, had to tell you to ‘calm down a bit’ – did you listen to him?
TN:
The conditions were horrible. I pushed very hard and Nicolas asked me to slow down not to make any mistakes.

Q:
We return to Mexico now where you picked up a podium last year – the same aim again this year?
NG:
For us it’s a special event. It was our first podium in WRC so we’re really looking forward to it.

Q:
Nicolas, what was the atmosphere like in the car? Are you happy with second?
NG:
I’m very happy from the beginning to the end. We were lucky with our tyre plan, so we made some good decisions.

Q:
Andreas, you were leading going into the final stage but a mistake dropped you down to third. You gave it everything you had – what are your feelings now?
AM:
I look at this weekend as a positive one. We had a gap but made a mistake. We tried to fight hard, Thierry and Sébastien were really fast. Coming into the day was really interesting. We decided to go maximum on the last stage, we knew we had to do it to be able to win.

Q:
Talk us through what went wrong in the last stage.
AM:
In a left hand corner I got in a little too fast and the rear caught the corner and made us spin. Luckily there were spectators there to help us but of course I feel unlucky not being able to win.

Q:
There are huge positives to take away from this weekend, can you turn the disappointment of the final stage into something that can help you in the future?
AM:
I think we learn a lot this weekend and hopefully we can take this with us into Mexico.

Q:
How did you find this weekend, how is it from your view?
OF:
I love the sport, but in a situation like this I hate it. But I still love it back here!

Q:
So many people were watching the battle this weekend. To have the interest back for the WRC, that’s amazing, isn’t it?
OF:
It’s good for the sport and in this rally there’s been so much interest for the sport and this event.

Q:
Jost, it’s been an amazing fight, a showcase for the WRC.
JC:
It was an incredible showcase for the sport. A really fantastic rally and interesting for everybody. I think this can make for a great season.

Q:
What have you thought of Andreas’ performance this weekend?
JC:
Andreas’ performance was outstanding and to be in a lead like this was really impressive. If you end up in a snow bank you end up in a snow bank; sometimes you just have bad luck.

Q:
Seb said he was going to hunt the other guys down, and he did. What’s your thought on our World Champion?
JC:
In the final stage it all comes down to a mindgame. They have shown they are really the right World Champions.

FIA WRC 2 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:

1st – Jari Ketomaa
1st – Kaj Lindstrom

Q:
Great win Jari. How are you feeling?
JK:
I’m feeling great, for the win and for the team. This is one of the most difficult events for the tyres so it feels very good after all DMack’s hard work.

Q:
It was a hugely strong field in the WRC 2 this weekend. A lot of drivers who could possibly have taken that win. Did you feel pressure coming in to the rally or not?
JK:
I can only do my best in my car and you have to beat everyone. We were in a position where we started really fast so I was able to create a gap which made it more enjoyable.

Q:
What kind of changes did you make to the car that made such a great improvement?
JK:
Just made the car work best for me and my driving.

Q:
We’ve seen lots of drama, lots of moments out there. Did you have any moments or not?
JK:
No not really. On the high speed places of course we have been taking more risks than in the slow, but no big problems.

Q:
For the season ahead, how many more rallies will we see you at? Will there be a full season for you?
JK:
At the moment Mexico, Argentina and Portugal, but hopefully we’ll be able to do the whole championship.

Q:
What did you think of the conditions on the stages this year?
KL:
We knew that Friday was going to be the most important day and we made sure not to make any big mistakes. When we saw Pontus [Tidemand] go off it was good for us.

FIA WRC 3 CHAMPIONSHIP

Present:

1st – Ole Christian Veiby
1st – Anders Jaeger

Q:
You have said this event was very much to learn for yourself and the car. How do you think you’ve performed this weekend, were you happy with the pace you set?
OCV:
Yeah, for sure. I’m actually very happy with the pace. Okay, there were no other WRC 3 competitors, but we had to compare times with these guys (WRC 2).

Q:
Did you enjoy the whole experience here on snow?
OCV:
There were lots of people in the forests and we really enjoyed it a lot.

Q:
Were there any moments out there?
OCV:
Not any big moments. We knew we only had to finish today to get the full points. Today we actually got stuck in a junction so got some help from the people out there, but we managed to get through.

Q:
How has it been for you this weekend?
AJ:
We had great fun all weekend. It´s a high speed rally which made us work on high speed sections and that’s what we did.

Q:
In terms of building the pace notes, did you change things as you went along?
AJ:
We made some changes but not that much. When you work hard and stay humble you can make great results.

Q:
How much are you looking forward to the rest of the season?
AJ:
I think it can be great if we just continue the way we’ve done so far.

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