WRC - Tänak leads in Sweden after Suninen’s error | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile

WRC - Tänak leads in Sweden after Suninen’s error

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Rally Sweden - Saturday morning

Rally Sweden - Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja

Ott Tänak (Toyota) has established a 33.8s lead over Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) on Rally Sweden’s Saturday morning loop, after main rival Teemu Suninen (M-Sport Ford) dropped over a minute as he went off into a snowbank. Suninen’s team mate Elfyn Evans completes the podium but the Brit has to watch for hungry competitors very close behind him.


This morning’s route took in a loop of three stages covering a total of 60.74 competitive kilometres through the forests and countryside in the heart of Sweden. It included the day’s highlight Vergåsen which features the famous Colin Crest’s jump.


Stage conditions were much better this morning, with the slushy gravel roads from Friday afternoon replaced by surfaces with hard ice, perfect for providing grip with the studs on the tyres of every competing crews on Rally Sweden.


Aboard his Toyota Yaris WRC, Tänak immediately showed a great pace, taking the rally lead away from Suninen on Rämmen by going 3.8s faster.


Suninen fought hard to maintain his position but the Finn’s challenge for victory ended around a kilometre from the end, as he went off the road in a slow left turn and got stuck in a snowbank.


All the fans nearby came for help, pushing Suninen’s Ford Fiesta WRC back onto the road to finish the stage but the damage was done. He lost nearly a minute and a half and dropped down from second to eighth place.


With Suninen’s misfortune, Andreas Mikkelsen, who had steadily ascended the overall classification yesterday with a set of clean stages with his Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC, was promoted second.


M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans came in third place, 16.9s behind Mikkelsen, but the Brit is struggling for pace despite feeling comfortable with his car’s performances. This afternoon, he’ll have to fight hard to keep his position against the very close rivals behind him.


Thierry Neuville had dropped down the ranking from first to seventh on Friday but bounced back on Saturday morning. He initially dropped behind Kris Meeke on Rämmen but quickly recovered, taking fifth away from the Toyota driver on Hagfors, then managed to snatch the fourth spot from  Esapekka Lappi on the run through Vargåsen, thanks to an impressive second quickest time, only 0.1s behind stage winner Sébastien Ogier. The Belgian is now within 1.1s from third-placed Evans.


After his misfortune yesterday which made him loose confidence, Citroën’s Lappi found it hard to push to the full but the Finn ended Saturday morning in fifth position, only one second behind Neuville.


Meeke is still within touching distance of a podium finish too, only 8.1s behind Evans despite being down in sixth overall.

Nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb struggled on his return to Sweden and felt his pace notes were too conservative and slowing him down. He dropped away from the midfield battle to finish the morning in seventh place.


In eight, Suninen is recovering, throwing in a strong third-fastest time on Vargåsen to reduce his gap to the Frenchman to nine seconds. He is far in front of team mate Pontus Tidemand in ninth, who is nearly a minute behind.


Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Marcus Grönholm were today’s rally restarters after retiring on Friday and showed strong performances, with Latvala winning the first stage and Ogier the next two.


Ole Christian Veiby continues to lead the FIA WRC 2 category and hold 10th overall, extending his lead over FIA World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristofferson, both driving Volkswagen Polo GTI R5s.


In 13th position overall, Mads Øsberg leads the FIA WRC 2 Pro class, ahead of Kalle Rovanperä, Gus Greensmith and Eerik Pietarinen.


Dennis Rådström continues to dominate the Junior WRC. Rådström, whose hometown is Torsby, where the rally is based, has 1m30.1s in hand over fellow Swede Tom Kristensson. Roland Poom completes the podium places.