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WRC - Evans leads the first day in Sweden

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Rally Sweden - Friday

Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin

Elfyn Evans leads Rally Sweden at the end of the opening day of competitive action after continuing his strong start behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC.

With the rally route modified following the recent mild weather in the region around Torsby, the first day featured four stages in total. Temperatures well below freezing in the morning ensured good conditions on the stages, although organisers also provided additional chances for the drivers to fit new tyres between stages.

As on Rallye Monte-Carlo last month, Evans set the pace from the start of Friday morning, and won both the first and third stages of the loop. He ended the day with an advantage of 8.5 seconds over Ott Tänak.

Back behind the wheel of his Hyundai after his large accident on the season opener, Tänak enjoyed a positive day with fastest times on the second and fourth stages of the day.

In just his second event in a World Rally Car, 19-year-old Kalle Rovanperä holds third place overall, 3.5 seconds in front of his illustrious team-mate Sébastien Ogier. Rovanperä did take third place from Tänak on the third stage of the loop, but slipped 5.8s behind the Estonian when he stalled his Toyota on the short Torsby Sprint test that ended the day.

Esapekka Lappi is only 3.1s further behind Ogier in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta, with the other two Hyundais of Thierry Neuville and Craig Breen not far behind him. Teemu Suninen is eighth and Takamoto Katsuta is ninth. Jari-Matti Latvala retired to service before the day’s final stage to try and repair a technical issue on his privately-entered Toyota.

Finnish driver Emil Lindholm is 10th overall and leading WRC3 in his Škoda, 5.5 seconds in front of Mads Østberg, who leads WRC2 for Citroën. Sweden’s Tom Kristensson leads the opening round of the Junior WRC season.