Rally Sweden Review! Heartbreak for Thierry leads to joy for Jari-Matti and Toyota!

It was Thierry’s rally. Once again, he damaged his car on the last stage of Saturday. This time Jari-Matti was there and picked up his first victory in nearly a year.

2017 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, WRC, Sweden
06-12 February 2017
Atmosphere
Day 1
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Here’s a reminder of the stages awaiting the crews for this year’s Rally Sweden.

THURSDAY 9 FEBRUARY

8.00am: shakedown (Skalla)

8.04pm: Start of day 1 (Karlstad)

8.08pm: SS1 – Karlstad 1 (1.90km)

9.54pm: End of day 1 (Torsby)

FRIDAY 10 FEBRUARY

6.50am: Start of day 2 and service A (Torsby – 15 mins)

7.59am: SS2 – Röjden 1 (18.47km)

9.06am: SS3 – Hof-Finnskog 1 (21.26km)

10.20am: SS4 – Svullrya 1 (24.88km)

11.56am: Service B (Torsby – 30 mins)

1.20pm: SS5 – Röjden 2 (18.47km)

2.27pm: SS6 – Hof-Finnskog 2 (21.26km)

3.51pm: SS7 – Svullrya 2 (24.88km)

5.15pm: SS8 – Torsby 1 (16.43km)

5.55pm: Flexi Service C (Torsby – 45 min)

SATURDAY 11 FEBRUARY

6.54am: Start of day 3 and service D (Torsby – 15 mins)

8.08am: SS9 – Knon 1 (31.60km)

9.17am: SS10 – Hagfors 1 (15.87km)

10.08am: SS11 – Vargåsen 1 (14.27km)

11.29am: Service E (Torsby – 30 mins)

12.58pm: SS12 – Knon 2 (31.60km)

2.17pm: SS13 – Hagfors 2 (15.87km)

3.08pm: SS14 – Vargåsen 2 (14.27km)

5.45pm: SS15 – Karlstad 2 (1.90km)

7.41pm: Flexi Service F (Torsby – 45 min)

SUNDAY 12 FEBRUARY

6.35am: Start of day 4 and service G (Torsby – 15 mins)

7.55am: SS16 – Likenäs 1 (21.19km)

9.58am: SS17 – Likenäs 2 (21.19km)

12.18pm: SS18 – Torsby 2 (16.43km)

1.00pm: Podium (Torsby)

The event started with a short stage on Thursday evening.

Jari-Matti showed that even though the Toyota is very new, it’s got good inherent pace and with him behind the wheel, it’s going to be at or near the front.

1. Latvala – 1:34,1 (72,7kph)

2. Neuville +0:00,6

3. Sordo +0:00,7

Seven stages awaited the drivers on Saturday. A day of fast flowing roads on the snow and ice, through the forests in the north of Sweden. The running order of the drivers is in championship order.

Ogier

Latvala

Tanak

Breen

Evans

Lefebvre

Neuville

Hanninen

Meeke

Paddon

Ostberg

Thierry picked up where he finished from in Monte Carlo and won stage two and move into the lead!

1. Neuville – 9:37,3 (115,2kph)

2. Meeke +0:02,0

3. Tanak +0:02,8

Seb’s starting position was clearly affecting his pace, only tenth fastest through the stage and dropping to eighth overall, whereas, Ott was clearly pretty comfortable with third on the road and was now Thierry’s closest challenger.

Stage three fell to Thierry as well, with Jari-Matti just six tenths slower though and bringing the Toyota back into second overall and Craig, who was making his debut in the new C3 WRC third fastest.

1. Neuville – 10:10,3 (125,4kph)

2. Latvala +0:00,6

3. Breen +0:02,3

Jari-Matti also jumped ahead into second overall with his drive through this stage. Clearly his road position was not affecting him at all.

Stage four and Jari-Matti stormed through this 8.5 seconds faster than Thierry and moved into the overall lead! What a drive! Seb found some grip and was third through this one meaning that he’d moved up into fourth overall.

1. Latvala – 12:52,3 (116,0kph)

2. Neuville +8,5

3. Ogier +9,6

Stage five was won by Thierry with Jari-Matti only fourth fastest, surrendering the lead back to the Hyundai driver. just four tenths slower at the end of the 18km stage. Ott found some good speed through as well and demoted Kris to fourth overall.

1. Neuville – 9:25,7 (117,5kph)

2. Paddon +0:04,1

3. Tanak +0:07,4

Stage six saw Thierry and Jari-Matti continue their duel at the front and there was very little to separate them at the end of the 21km stage.

1. Neuville – 10:06,4 (126,2kph)

2. Latvala +0:02,3

3. Paddon +0:03,8

So, just two stages left on this first day of competition and another stage fell to the quick Belgian, with Kris nearly 12 seconds slower and Jari-Matti nearly 18 seconds slower meant that Thierry had a very comfortable lead.

1. Neuville – 13:04,0 (114,2kph)

2. Meeke +0:11,8

3. Ogier +0:16,4

Last stage of the day then, and Ott took the 16km stage by just seven one thousands of a second from Thierry with Jari-Matti four seconds behind.

1. Tanak – 9:24,8 (104,7kph)

2. Neuville +0:00,7

3. Latvala +0:04,8

So, day one was over and Thierry had built a very good lead with his consistency throughout the day, only once not in the top three and with 5 stage victories was stamping his authority on this event just like he did in Rallye Monte Carlo.

Here’s the top ten after day one.

1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul 1:16:24.7

2 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila +28.1

3 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja +49.7

4 K. Meeke P. Nagle +51.8

5 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia +55.7

6 H. Paddon J. Kennard +1:17.8

7 D. Sordo M. Martí +1:40.3

8 C. Breen P. Nagle +1:54.3

9 E. Evans D. Barritt +3:01.5

10 S. Lefebvre G. Moreau +3:23.6

So, the thoughts of the drivers….

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville said: “All in all, it’s been a good day’s work for us. To lead the rally by such a margin is obviously very encouraging, but we are not getting carried away because we know how unpredictable this rally can be. There’s a long way to go! We had a decent first loop today, although it wasn’t perfect. In SS4, there were a lot of deep cuts and I hit something very hard with the front. I took it carefully after that in case it was a puncture. Our pace notes were good for the afternoon loop and we looked after the studs so our tyres had performance right to the end. My door kept opening slightly on the final stage, which was a distraction but overall the car has been working very well here and I’m optimistic for the rest of the weekend.”

2017 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, WRC, Sweden
06-12 February 2017
Thierry Neuville – Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Action
Day 1
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Hayden Paddon said: “I’m not going to lie, it’s not been the start to the rally that we wanted. Things just weren’t coming very naturally on the morning stages, so we had to be patient. It was really a case of battling myself, rather than the stages. I sat with my engineer at lunchtime service and he suggested some changes that really helped us for the afternoon. I had more confidence from the start and felt that I was driving the car, not the car driving me! We lost time as the loop continued because we’d only taken five studded tyres, as opposed to six. But we’re in the top-six and I hope to have a more positive Saturday.”

Dani Sordo said: “We had a good morning loop, generally speaking. The car was working well and I was enjoying the stages. The only real issue we had was in SS4 (Svullrya) where I got distracted and missed a hairpin. We lost a lot of time and I couldn’t get back into the rhythm. As expected, the conditions were not easy in the afternoon, so we took no risks. It was difficult to keep the car in the lines, so I was lacking a bit of confidence. In the final stage, in the dark conditions, this was especially hard, so we just played it safely. These stages are fast and fun to drive, so I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of our i20 Coupe WRC tomorrow.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala

” I’m very happy with our progress today. We were able to make some adjustments to the car ourselves after the first stage today, and then it felt a lot better. I only had one stage I was not happy with, which was SS7. Although we were quick there in the morning, in the afternoon I lost confidence and started over-driving. That cost me a lot of time, which is a pity. But I cannot complain: tonight’s end result is very good and the car has been perfect. Now we stay concentrated for tomorrow.”

Juho Hänninen

” I felt that I was losing time in the slow corners this morning, so we made some changes at service. In the afternoon the car felt better and I had more confidence but unfortunately we just went wide at the end of SS5 and this meant that we hit a tree with the front of the car and caused quite big damage. We finished the stage but we stopped the car afterwards to save the engine, as we were losing cooling. Hopefully we can restart, as the most important thing for me is time in the car.”

M-Sport WRT

Ott Tänak said:

“It’s been a really difficult day. This was my first experience of being one of the guys opening the road and I never knew how hard the job was for Seb – now I can say that it is very difficult! Even with those challenges, I think we managed the day really well and I think we can be happy with our performance.

“The gaps were really close before the last stage and I pushed really hard to get the position for

tomorrow. The further back you are the better the conditions will be and I gave it everything. It was a big effort, but there will be some really fast stages tomorrow so the push will have to continue.”

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

Sébastien Ogier said:

“We really tried everything we could, but it’s clear that the conditions have not been on our side today. Following the historic cars this afternoon was especially difficult as the first car on the road and there really wasn’t much we could do.

“I’ve been pleased with our drive and I think we did a good job with the challenges we had. Tomorrow we will have better conditions so we’re looking forward to a more enjoyable day. We weren’t able to show our true performance today, and tomorrow I think we’ll have a better indication of where we are.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke said:

“After a good morning, I lost time in the afternoon. On SS5, I dropped about fifteen seconds stuck in a snow bank. The car hit a bump, we ran wide on the next corner and were lucky not to lose more. On the final stage, I had no grip. My tyres were completely shot, they had lost most of their studs. But we’re still in contention for a place on the podium, so I still feel positive.”

Craig Breen said:

“It hasn’t really been our day today! I made a series of mistakes, I damaged certain parts of the bodywork and I lost some of the aero package. It’s incredible what a difference the aerodynamics of the C3 WRC make. Despite all that, we’re still in the race, less than a minute off sixth place.”

Stephane Lefevbre said:

“It’s been a good day, I think I’ve made quite a lot of progress on this surface. This morning, maybe I was driving a bit too much in the middle of the road, not daring to use the little snow banks on the side of the road. I enjoyed myself a bit more on the second pass. I would like to push more to close the gap to the guys ahead, but the risk with that is you end up being less effective. You have to find the right balance, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Jipocar World Rally Team

Mads Østberg said:

We felt we were being properly competitive, and the car is absolutely fantastic to drive when everything functions as it should. I have a much more positive feeling, also drive-wise, than I had after the last events some months ago. I am already looking forward to Saturdays stages, even if we are far behind.

In regards to losing the rear wing during stage five, he said, “It was a nasty and dramatic experience. The aerodynamics on these new cars generate so much downforce and when you lose the rear wing and consequently more or less all rear downforce and grip, it’s not nice at all!

Day two was another early start. Seven stages awaited the crews, including Vargasen, which included Colin’s Crest! First up was the 31.6km Knon stage nineStage ten which stage winner Ott flew through at an average 137,6kph! The fastest stage for more than 30 years! Seb and Thierry were placed second and third, less than half a second between Ott and Seb. Thierry was still firmly in control however, with a lead of 30 seconds over Jari-Matti.

1. Tanak – 13:45,5 (137,8kph)

2. Ogier +0:02,6

3. Neuville +0:04,2

In fact, this stage was due to be run again, but due the high speed, it was cancelled on the recommendation of the FIA.

Stage ten next then and Ott continued his strong start to the day, completing the 15,67km stage one tenth faster than Thierry, who increased his lead over Jari-Matti a little. Ott was doing really well and certainly taking control of third place over Ogier who was 10 seconds behind the Estonian.

1. Tanak – 8:03,0 (118,3kph)

2. Neuville +0,1

3. Ogier +0,9

Into stage eleven then! Vargasen, featuring Colin’s Crest! There were literally hundreds of fans camped out in the snow, just waiting for the drivers to launch the cars over! Who would go the furthest?

On the first run through, Mads was the guy who jumped 42 metres! Tanak, Latvala, and Neuville, all took it easy over there. Well, after all they were in the pound seats! Ott had closed the gap a little more to Latvala as well.

1. Tanak – 8:20,7 (102,6kph)

2. Latvala +0:03,4

3. Neuville +0:03,8

As mentioned, stage twelve was cancelled, so after service the cars headed for the second run of Hagfors. Latvala won the stage from Ott who was continuing to try to pile pressure on the experienced Finn. Thierry still had a good gap to second placed Jari-Matti.

1. Latvala – 7:50,9 (121,3kph)

2. Tanak +0:01,1

3. Neuville +0:01,2

The second run of Vargasen beckoned, and Mads was in a pretty determined mood to jump further than earlier! Ott, really put the pedal to the metal, and closed the gap to Jari-Matti some more through here, the gap coming down to just four seconds! Mads drove pretty well and just missed out on the longest jump by setting a big jump of 44 metres! This stage spelled disaster for Kris however- Going over a crest which turned right and then left straight afterwards, he slid off and his car got beached… he had been in a solid fifth place, a good minute ahead of Dani Sordo. The time loss was massive; nine minutes.

1. Neuville – 8:07,5 (105,4kph)

2. Ogier +0:03,3

3. Tanak +0:05,7

One last stage then left and, well we didn’t expect this….! The short 1.9km stage saw leader Thierry hit a marker on the edge of the course, and he broke his left-front wheel. He was out! Jari-Matti was our new leader! Dani won the stage, with Seb and Ott second and third!

1. Sordo – 1:33,9 (72,8kph)

2. Ogier +0:00,3

3. Tanak +0:00,4

Jari-Matti had a lead of 3,8 seconds over Ott, with Seb now 16,6 behind in third.

Saturday end of day standings

1 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila 2:04:59.3

2 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja +3.8

3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia +16.6

4 D. Sordo M. Martí +1:39.5

5 C. Breen P. Nagle +2:04.5

6 E. Evans D. Barritt +3:44.7

7 H. Paddon J. Kennard +5:00.2

8 S. Lefebvre G. Moreau +5:37.0

9 P. Tidemand J. Andersson +6:36.7

10 T. Suninen M. Markkula +7:52.9

The thoughts of the drivers then for you, starting with our new rally leader!

 

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala

” It’s been another good day for us, although not without some small issues: but these were actually nothing to do with the car. There was quite a lot of loose snow and it was hard to keep control in places, especially on the downhill sections. At one point, I even thought I had a puncture. We decided to take just one spare tyre in the car for the afternoon to help us in this big fight. But we also had some problems with tyre wear, as well as losing time behind another car. Tomorrow will be a big day so we have to try our best. The car and the team is getting better all the time, so I feel good.”

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

Juho Hänninen

” Today has been a different type of day for us: obviously, there is a different focus when you are not competing at the front. Looking on the positive side, we got more time in the car, which is exactly what we needed, and we also did some useful testing. We have to remember that this is a learning year, so the goal for myself and the team is just to take as much away from every rally as possible”

M-Sport WRT

Ott Tänak said:

“It’s been a really enjoyable day. We had some more consistent grip levels and were able to really push. The morning loop was really good for us and I think we can be happy with the job we have done.

“We’ve had a clean run and a really good feeling with the car. We lost a little bit of time passing Kris [Meeke] through the second pass of Vargåsen (SS14), but apart from that everything has been working really well and it’s been a really clean drive.

“The gaps are really small both ahead and behind, but of course the situation has changed a little bit now and it’s the battle for the victory. Honestly, that hasn’t changed my approach. Whether it was the battle for second or the battle for the win, we have to keep pushing and we will just go out there and do our best.

“Anything is possible and, like everyone else, I’m actually quite excited to see what will happen.”

Sébastien Ogier said:

“I think we can be quite happy with our day. I would have liked to have found a bit more speed but unfortunately that just wasn’t possible. I really tried to push, but every time we were struggling with the grip and hitting the snow banks.

“It was much better than yesterday, but we know that it is a big advantage to start at the back of the field at this rally. We didn’t have the optimum road position, but there is still a fight going on.

“It’s going to be an exciting day tomorrow and we all want to achieve the best result. I’m sure we’ll all be flat-out and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Dani Sordo said: “I enjoyed driving the very fast stages today, but obviously we are all sorry to see Thierry lose the lead of the rally this evening. It was hard to take comfort from winning that stage considering what happened to our team mates. Generally, we have tried to get into a rhythm today and to pick up our pace, but it’s not been easy. On the opening stage this morning, it was difficult to keep the speed through the corners. I then made a small mistake in the first Hagfors stage, SS10, which lost some time. Vargåsen is always fun, especially with the Colin’s Crest jump, but overall I could’ve done better on the loop. We couldn’t take it too easy in the afternoon with Breen so close behind, so Sunday will be about managing our gap to him, and securing fourth place.”

Hayden Paddon said: “Another day of two halves for us. This morning was difficult and physically demanding. Rallying on these stages with no power steering is a just incredibly tough. It felt like an extended gym session, or wrestling a lion – and coming off second best! To make it through the loop was an achievement in itself. With power steering back in the afternoon, it was like having a feather at the fingertips. We hadn’t done the two stages at speed so we were playing catch-up to find a rhythm. We are overdue a change of fortune, but I’m determined to end this rally on a high.”

2017 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, WRC, Sweden
06-12 February 2017
Hayden Paddon, John Kennard, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Action
Day 1
Photographer: Helena El Mokni
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Thierry Neuville said: “There are really no words that convey how I feel right now. It was a very sudden end to what had been a good rally for us. We had spent all Saturday with a deliberate strategy to take things steady and to stay in control of the rally. We didn’t want a repeat of Monte, but that’s exactly what we got. I am so disappointed for the team, for Nicolas, and myself but we have to put it quickly behind us. We can’t dwell on such things, however frustrating. We know we have the pace to win rallies with the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. We have the confidence and I am sure the results will come. Tomorrow, we come back under Rally 2 and we’ll go for Power Stage points. We will then fight back again in Mexico.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Craig Breen said:

“It was a good learning experience for us today. I tried to keep it clean so as to avoid making any silly mistakes. The afternoon was a bit more mixed: I had a good feeling on the Hagfors stage, but not so much on Vargåsen, where I was struggling to keep the car on the road. I’m pleased to be in the top 5 and I’ll try to keep it going right to the finish.”

Kris Meeke said:

“This morning, I had the impression I was driving well on the stages but my times weren’t good enough to hold onto fourth place. I got caught out on the second run on Vargåsen: the rear snapped away from me coming into a left-hander and I couldn’t turn in. We went off the side of the road and got stuck in the snow. Thanks to the spectators for helping us so we could finish the day!”

Stephane Lefebvre said:

“The first loop was difficult, because I was second on the road and had to contend with sweeping the five centimetres of fresh snow on the racing line. My pace notes weren’t perfect either, so I also used the morning to make a few corrections. In the afternoon, I lost about thirty seconds after hitting a snow bank. The rest of the leg went well and I’m pleased to be in eighth place overall.”

Jipocar World Rally Team

Mads Østberg said

“I really set out to beat he record second time through. On a day where we have had very little to drive for, I thought it would be funny to flatten the competition over the jump. And we really did that, both times. But the conditions didn`t give me enough speed out of the last corner before the jump to beat the record. Still a 44 metre jump in a car is quite long, says Mads somewhat jokingly…

I am not using the full potential of the car. I haven`t yet explored the possibilities with active center differential, but have been driving with a locked differential. Another key area is the aerodynamics. These new cars give so much more downforce and grip, but to trust the downforce to keep you on the road in the really highspeed corners is something you have to experience and learn. I had a little fright Friday with the rearwing disappearing, but it was a real ‘eyeopener’ experiencing the downforce the car actually generates.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

So, Sunday dawned for the first time since 1999 with a Toyota leading a WRC event! Could Jari-Matti actually win this, or would one of those M-Sport Fiesta’s blast past him?

Well, we got an answer pretty fast on that. First driver to crack was Seb. He spun right near the start of the stage and lost 27 seconds! Jari-Matti won the stage from Tanak by seven seconds, and his lead was now extended! Hayden was finding some good pace as well, just a couple of seconds slower than his teammate Dani, and fourth fastest ahead of Kris.

1. Latvala – 11:06,9 (114,4kph)

2. Tanak +0:07,1

3. Sordo +0:07,7

The next stage, was actually the same stage again, and Jari-Matti also won that as well! He was not going to let this one slip through his fingers! Tanak and Paddon were second and third, but Ott had lost another nine seconds to Jari-Matti, meaning that his lead was now 20 seconds over the Estonian! Juho had also set a very good time, going fourth fastest.

1. Latvala – 11:06,3 (114,5kph)

2. Tanak +0:09,1

3. Paddon +0:13,6

Just one stage remained then, for what would be a remarkable result for the returning manufacturer, in a year which they expected to be a development year.

You’d have understood if Jari-Matti and Miikka just stroked it home. What they actually did was go out there and win the stage and take all five power stage points, beating Seb and Thierry, who had managed to get three points from a weekend that promised so much! Kris and Hayden also scored points in that stage, so at least they didn’t leave empty handed.

1. Latvala – 8:51,1 (111,4kph)

2. Ogier +0:01,2

3. Neuville +0:01,5

But the big story was that Jari-Matti and Miikka had won their first rally for Toyota and their fourth Rally Sweden as well! Just an incredible result!

Here’s what the drivers had to say at the end of a truly classic event, starting with the winner!

Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala

” I am so, so happy. For a new team and new car to win its second rally: I really have no words. I think I drove my best power stage ever today. Huge thanks to all the team. Now we are super-motivated to continue like this: I just can’t wait to get to Mexico. It’s fantastic to win but I also feel very sorry for Thierry Neuville, who lost the lead yesterday at the super special stage. I have been in a similar situation myself in the past, so I completely understand how he must be feeling now. We know we were lucky, so we need to carry on improving and working for our goal.”

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

Juho Hänninen

” I am so proud to be part of this team of dedicated and hard-working people and so happy. This is an amazing result for all of us. From our point of view, we spent the rally recovering from our mistake on Friday, but we completed plenty of useful testing and I increased my time and confidence in the car.”

M-Sport WRT

Ott Tänak said:

“I think it’s been a really good weekend for us. I had a new experience opening the road on Friday but when the conditions were more equal yesterday we had some really good speed. I’m happy with that and what we have achieved this weekend has given us a lot of confidence.

“Today, we knew straight away that Jari-Matti would be hard to beat. At the beginning of the first stage we knew that we didn’t have the same feeling as yesterday. It was a bit disappointing at the time, knowing that we had no option but to settle for second, but I’m still really happy with my weekend.

“It’s been a great start to the season and I have a really good feeling with the car. We’ve got a great package to build on and, although there is still some work to do behind the scenes, we’re ready to give it another big push in Mexico next month.”

Sébastien Ogier said:

“It’s been a tough weekend so it’s great to be on the podium at the end of the rally. It was a really difficult weekend but we have to look to the positives and we’re taking some good points away from this event.

“I didn’t have the chance to fight for anything more today as I made a really silly mistake on the first stage of the morning. On the first corner – just 50 metres into the stage – we were caught by the inside of a snowbank and spun. I knew I couldn’t fight for anything more after that, but looking at the weekend as a whole, I think we have to be happy.

“We knew at the start of the season that we would have a lot less preparation then everyone else. We still need some time to find a perfect feeling with the car but to see the results that we have achieved so far is really encouraging.

“We still need to do some work of course, but I think we have good pace and have had a really positive start to the season so let’s see what Mexico brings.”

Hyundai Motorsport

Dani Sordo said: “I have enjoyed this rally a lot, with some very fast and breath-taking stages. We knew our target this morning was to take fourth place, and pick up the important points of the Championship, so we took it carefully. These stages in Sweden are tricky and slippery, so we had to be cautious not to make any mistakes. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC has been a pleasure to drive, very competitive and with good pace. We need to take the consistency from Monte-Carlo and Sweden and build on this for Mexico, where I will be aiming for the podium.”

Hayden Paddon said: “That was most certainly not the easiest of weekends but getting to the finish feels like a release of pressure. Things just didn’t click for us 100% but we used this morning to try a few things and there are definitely things we can learn for future rallies. We gave it a bit of a push in the Power Stage and finishing P7 gives us some points to kick-start our Championship. I am positive about this car and the direction we are heading, so it’s a case of onwards and upwards.”

Thierry Neuville said: “We gave it everything in the final stage but we had to settle for three points instead of the five we wanted. It was a very close-run stage with just 1.5-seconds separating the top-three. The result overall is of course a big source of frustration. I feel disappointed for the whole team that we lost the lead of the rally for a small driving mistake. It was another issue with big consequences for the Championship. I am sure that our approach to this rally was correct, until our misfortune, however our potential is clear and we have to focus on moving forward positively.”

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Craig Breen said:

“I’m pleased to have made it to the finish and to score my first points for a factory team! It was a pretty cool weekend, even though we weren’t always completely happy with our performance level. We have to move on. The Citroën C3 WRC has so much potential and I can’t wait to be driving it again!”

Kris Meeke said:

“We haven’t finished were we wanted to be. We have a lot of work to do and we need to analyse all the information that we’ve collected so we can improve. After two winter events, we’re now going to switch to gravel and so the next test session will obviously be very useful. It’s hard for me to feel confident after two difficult rallies, but I’m not about to give in.”

Stephane Lefebvre said:

“I feel like I really learned how to drive on snow this weekend. The first day gave me chance to get my bearings. Yesterday, I was at a disadvantage due to my road position but I still managed to improve before confirming my progress today. I think we did a lot of good work, especially on making the most of the tyres and managing tyre pressure. It was a very positive weekend for us, with some very useful information for us for the future.”

D-Mack WRT

Elfyn Evans, DMACK WRC driver, said: “Overall it’s been an encouraging weekend after having limited testing before the rally. Our pace was strong on the first day but unfortunately the mistake dropped us time and also meant we were disadvantaged by running at the front of the field. However, it’s another good haul of points, we are sixth in the championship and I’m confident as we head to the more traditional gravel events.”

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

Jipocar World Rally Team

Mads Østberg said:

For sure we need more mileage, and will be concentrating on doing some testwork before the next rally. This is especially important as the next event is on tarmac and so far, I have just driven the car a few kilometres on that surface during a test in France before Christmas. We can see from the splits in Sweden that we have been quite competitive on the technical parts of the stages, but I need a bit more confidence to actually trust and use the aerodynamic possibilities the car gives me in the really fast sections. But I am positive and have definitely enjoyed driving the new and very fast WRC-car.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 09/02/2017 to 12/02/2017 – PHOTO : @World

After two rounds, it is clear that Hyundai have built a very good car, and I would say that the combination of Thierry with his pace and experience and the speed of the car have a very good platform to take this year’s championship. However, he needs to eliminate these mistakes, to get him into the hunt. Right now, you’d say that Seb has a great opportunity to win the title with the dark horse being Jari-Matti.

Citroen will be hoping their luck will change, with all their problems. Of all the teams, they are the ones most on the back-foot. They will want a strong run to the podium next month in Mexico. Who would have thought that Craig would be their top performing driver after two rounds? After all, he did drive a DS3 in Monte Carlo.

Mads will not be driving in Mexico, as his wife is due to give birth, so we will see him back in the Fiesta WRC in April’s Tour de Corse.

Final Overall Classification – Rally Sweden

1 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila 2:36:03.6

2 O. Tanak M. Jarveoja +29.2

3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia +59.5

4 D. Sordo M. Martí +2:11.5

5 C. Breen P. Nagle +2:51.2

6 E. Evans D. Barritt +5:26.6

7 H. Paddon J. Kennard +5:31.2

8 S. Lefebvre G. Moreau +7:14.7

9 P. Tidemand J. Andersson +9:11.1

10 T. Suninen M. Markkula +10:02.9

11 O.C Veiby S. Skjaermoen +10:18.5

12 K. Meeke P. Nagle +10:28.7

13 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul +11:31.5

2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings

After round 2

1 J.M Latvala 48

2 S. Ogier 44

3 O. Tanak 33

4 D. Sordo 25

5 C. Breen 20

6 E. Evans 18

7 S. Lefebvre 10

8 T. Neuville 8

9 H. Paddon 7

2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings

After round 2

1 M-Sport World Rally Team 73

2 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC 53

3 Hyundai Motorsport 40

4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT 26

Warren Nel

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