Rally Sweden- Thierry and Hyundai Triumph!

On Sunday, Thierry and Nicolas had a good gap and just three stages to clear before they could take their first Swedish victory. The gap to Craig stood at just under 23 seconds and that meant he’d be able to just manage his pace.

 

The first stage of the day, Likenäs, saw another stage victory for Ott Tanak, with Lappi second fastest and Jari-Matti third. This allowed Lappi to take fifth place from Mads. Meantime, Craig closed a few seconds down on the leader and the gap was now 14 seconds. Rejoining after his troubles after yesterday, Kris spun again after clipping the inside of a snowbank.

 

The same stage was run later and this time Lappi took the stage victory, with Thierry second fastest and Craig, having made some changes to his notes with Scott was third, and with that increasing the gap over Andreas on the overall leaderboard a further three seconds to almost fifteen seconds. After setting such a good time, Lappi had now closed to just three seconds of Hayden! Could he snatch fourth on the last stage?

 

We had a bit of a wait for the last stage, which was set to run just after midday. The re-run of Torsby as the power stage saw Lappi once more at the top, with Seb, Andreas, Thierry and Ott completing the top five in the stage and taking the points for those positions.

 

Well, we had or top three overall and taking his and Hyundai’s first Swedish victory was Thierry, with Craig Breen finishing second after a superb drive to second, his best result yet! Andreas made it a Hyundai 1-3 double podium! Not only that, but Thierry took the lead in the driver’s championship and Hyundai also now lead the manufacturers championship for the first time ever.

 

Overall Classification- Rally Sweden

  1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 2:52:13.1
  2. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +19.8
  3. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +28.3
  4. Esapekka Lapp / Janne Ferme (Toyota Yaris WRC) +45.8
  5. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +54.4
  6. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +1:15.3
  7. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:04.9
  8. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:52.2
  9. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:44.4
  10. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +8:45.4

 

Let’s hear from the drivers starting with the top three.

 

Thierry Neuville

“An incredible result! We had a disappointing start to the season in Monte-Carlo, but we didn’t let that get us down. We kept focused and targeted a strong result here in Sweden. We knew the competition would be tough for the win but we came here with the objective to bounce back, and we did that perfectly. We didn’t expect to take the lead so early in the weekend, so we have had to be clever to defend the gap at times, and then increase it when we could. I felt we deserved the win last year, but perhaps even more so this weekend. I was never going to push in the Power Stage because the victory meant too much to risk, so to come away with two extra points is great. We’re now leading the championship, so our 2018 campaign is back on track. Thanks to everyone in the team. We have many people working tirelessly every day behind the scenes to give us a competitive car, one with which we can fight for victories like this. This win is for all of them; it’s been a fantastic weekend for us.”

2018 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, Rally Sweden
15-18 February 2018
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Craig Breen

“I’m absolutely on top of the world! It has been an incredible weekend. I have always really enjoyed this rally in the past, but I have to say that I surprised myself this weekend in that I was able to fight at the front throughout the race, without making any mistakes. I used to think that quick rallies weren’t suited to me, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. In any event, my C3 WRC was perfect here and it’s great to secure this result for the team – the guys have worked really hard for this.”

Craig and Paul scored their best ever result finishing second in Sweden. Photo credit Citroen Racing

Andreas Mikkelsen

“It is a fantastic feeling to be standing on the podium for the first time with Hyundai Motorsport. We have had a pretty solid weekend and enjoyed a clean final morning. I wanted to give a push in the Power Stage but it’s always a fine line as we definitely didn’t want to risk our podium. In the end, we took three points and third place overall, which is very encouraging. More than that, it has been an excellent weekend for the team as a whole, and our congratulations go to Thierry and Nicolas on a tremendous result.  It’s wonderful to be able to share in this success, and to see the team at the top of the championship, even at this early stage in the season.”

 

Here’s the rest of the drivers.

 

Toyota Gazoo WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala

“It has been a very hard weekend for me. We just lost so much time on the first day with our high starting position in the fresh snow and the heavy ruts. We changed the transmission for the final day and this improved the feeling compared to yesterday. The team did a very good job and the car was handling very well. It is both quick and reliable and that is important.”

 

Ott Tänak

“This has been a tough weekend. On Friday we faced some bad conditions and couldn’t have done much more. On Saturday our road position was slightly better, the pace was better as a result and we could win quite a few stages. Then today when the conditions were in our favour we could do some more good times. This was my first rally in the Toyota Yaris WRC with a gravel-style setup and we have learned a lot of things.”

 

Esapekka Lappi

“To get the Power Stage win and gain two places today has been very good. I’m really happy for the team as well: at least we got some kind of good result from this weekend. It means I’m not so disappointed anymore about what happened to me on Friday. It’s so easy to make a mistake here. Overall the whole rally was quite strong. I wasn’t expecting this kind of speed from my side, so I’m really looking forward to coming back here next year.”

Esapekka Lappi, Toyota Gazoo WRT. Photo credit Toyota

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon

“An annoying end to what had been a generally positive weekend for us. It was just a small mistake in the Power Stage, which stalled the car and lost us too much time to defend our fourth place. It is what it is. We’re not in the championship hunt this season so whether it’s fourth or fifth doesn’t really matter greatly. We have plenty of positives to take away from the event and I am looking forward to continuing this trend in my next WRC event in Portugal. I’m happy to have been part of this competitive rally for the team and I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel.”

 

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Mads Østberg

“I’m delighted with my return to the team. I wasn’t expecting to be able to fight for such a good position with the limited amount of miles we covered in testing. I hope that the team is pleased with what we have done with this first experience together. I know that with more time in the car, I can be even more competitive with the C3 WRC. In any case, I would love to drive it again soon!”

 

Kris Meeke

“It was a difficult rally for us. With our less than ideal position in the running order on Friday, I had trouble finding any confidence, which meant that we ended up being one of the first on the road on Saturday. I was nonetheless working hard to secure the point for tenth place when we nosed into a snow bank at low speed and damaged the turbo. It was really unlucky. I’m determined to bounce back, starting in Mexico. Out of the next four rallies, I have already won three of them and I was leading in Corsica last year as well.”

 

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Teemu Suninen

“It’s been a difficult rally, but we’ve been improving a lot and learning a lot about how to drive these cars on this surface – because it’s quite different from the R5 cars. The target before the rally was to be somewhere between fifth and eighth, and we’re eighth so it’s okay. But of course, I was hoping for a bit more. We just need to improve the driving and learn more about how to be fast in these conditions.”

 

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 -WRC Sweden (SWE) – WRC 15/02/2018 to 18/02/2018 – PHOTO : @World

Sébastien Ogier

“For years now, I have been fighting for different rules regarding the starting order. In the end, this is a World Championship and everyone tries to do their best and take every chance that there is to win points.

“At least on this stage [the Power Stage] we had the chance to score some points. I would have preferred to have come here with a realistic chance of fighting for the win or even a podium, but that was not possible from the beginning of this weekend.”

 

Elfyn Evans

“It’s not been the easiest of weekends. It’s probably fair to say that we were struggling for some pace through the early stages, but then when the puncture set us back we didn’t have any chance with the road position. It’s certainly not the weekend we wanted, so we just need to put it behind us and look forward to Mexico.”

Conclusion.

Well, what an amazing rally we were treated to! A maiden victory for Thierry and Hyundai in Sweden, plus Craig Breen’s best ever result with second place. Also, Esapekka making up for his slip in Monte’s last stage with a very good drive to fourth!  It was great to see Hayden out there for the first time this year.

We’ve now got a break with Rally Mexico on the first weekend of March where Thierry and Seb will continue to battle. Will it just be them, or can Kris produce a drive like last year and bring himself into a title fight?

2018 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, Rally Sweden
15-18 February 2018
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Drivers Championship Standings

  1. Thierry Neuville – 41
  2. Sébastien Ogier – 31
  3. Jari-Matti Latvala – 23
  4. Esapekka Lapp – 23
  5. Ott Tänak – 21
  6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 21
  7. Craig Breen – 20
  8. Kris Meeke – 17
  9. Hayden Paddon – 10
  10. Elfyn Evans – 8

 

Manufacturers Championship Standings

  1. Hyundai Motorsport – 54
  2. Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC – 53
  3. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team – 46
  4. M-Sport Ford World Rally Team – 43

Rally Sweden- Thierry makes Saturday his.

Saturday morning dawned cloudless and cold! Eight stages awaited the crews today including Vargasen which included Colins Crest and would be run twice. Three stages were run in the morning followed by service at 11:40 and then the remaining five in the afternoon and evening.

 

First stage of the day Torntorp was won by Tanak, which allowed him to close a little on Jari-Matti in the overall positions. The big surprise was the pace that Craig showed and he was just four seconds slower than Ott in the 19km stage and this pace lifted him into third deposing Hayden.

 

In the following stage, Hagfors, the two leading Hyundai drivers suffered spins and Craig was the chief beneficiary from this, moving ahead of Andreas and now the lead was just four seconds. Hayden also moved ahead of Andreas into third. Ott won the stage, making it two out of two.

 

Now it was time for the big stage of the day, the first run through Vargasen, and Thierry won the stage by just nine tenths of a second from Ott, with Ogier showing some pace at last in third. Mads was seventh fastest, but managed a huge 42 metre jump over Colins Crest! Craig ran a very good stage, fourth fastest keeping the gap to Thierry as close as he could, just 5.9 away from the Belgian.

 

After that stage, the crews headed for service.

 

The second run of Torntorp saw Craig take the stage victory, beating Thierry by 1.3 seconds and reducing the gap to the leader! Hayden lost third to Andreas and Ott closed the gap to Jari-Matti to just five tenths of a second in their battle

 

Into Hagfors for the second time and Thierry struck back with a great time beating Andreas by 6.6 seconds with Craig sticking a good time on the board and staying in second overall, but the gap was now just 14 seconds. He was managing the tyres, as there was gravel appearing through the snow and ice. Kris unfortunately retired from the stage and the rally after he went off into a snowbank which clogged up the front of his car with snow, seriously affecting the cooling of the engine. After he cleaned the snow out, he got going, but then Ott tried to pass him and there was contact, resulting in the Toyota driver going off. This meant that the battle between him and Jari-Matti was over.

 

The second run of Vargasen was won by Thierry who was 4 seconds faster that Craig, thus increasing his lead to 18 seconds over Craig. The Belgian also took a very interesting line and landed on two wheels, the car at a 45-degree angle in the air at one point!

 

Mads Ostberg took the biggest jump though this year over Colins Crest going 42 metres, living life on the edge!

The penultimate stage, back at Karlstad was won by Ott from Mads, with Latvala in third. Craig had also set a good time, consolidating second overall, ahead of the two Hyundai pilots, Andreas and Hayden.

Moving to the last stage of the day the Torsby Sprint stage, a short one to complete day two. Thierry won the stage and increased his lead to 22.7 seconds over Craig Breen. Hyundai duo Andreas and Hayden remain in third and fourth, although the young Kiwi lost time in the final stage, after getting stuck in a snowbank.

Overall Standings- End of Saturday

  1. Neuville/Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:23:23.8
  2. Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) + 22.7
  3. Mikkelsen/Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 32.0
  4. Paddon/Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 48.6
  5. Ostberg/Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) + 56.8
  6. Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 1:05.8
  7. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 2:03.3
  8. Suninen/Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 2:20.5
  9. Tänak/Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 3:41.3
  10.  Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 4:24.9

 

Let’s hear then from the drivers.

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“Things have gone pretty much to plan today and we can be pleased with our day overall. We had a bit of a stressful start this morning after a technical issue in the first stage and a spin in the second, which cost us some time. After that, though, we were able to increase the gap stage by stage. In the afternoon, we took six tyres compared to Craig’s five so we knew we’d lose a bit initially with the extra weight, but we then had fresher tyres for later in the loop. We gave a big push through SS13 and SS14, as we’re involved in a very close fight. We scored more stage wins, which was a nice reward for our efforts. I actually touched the inside bank of the Colin’s Crest jump, which created some exciting images for the fans. I think Colin himself would have called that ‘a little moment’ but we were still able to register the fastest time. We took things a bit steadier in the final stages and we are now prepared to fight for victory on Sunday morning.”

2018 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 02, Rally Sweden
15-18 February 2018
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Andreas Mikkelsen

“It has been a day of two halves. The morning loop could have been better. We had a spin in SS10, the second stage of the day, and lost around 15 seconds. We touched a bank and had to reverse out, which was easier said than done, as it was a narrow section of road. We made some set-up adjustments at lunchtime service to find a similar feeling to yesterday, making the car less stiff in a bid to find more traction. The afternoon was a lot cleaner as a result with some improved times. Hayden has been pushing, so we have done the same to try and defend our third place. There is an almost ten-second time deficit to Craig, with three stages left on Sunday, but we’ll give it a good go. It’s not impossible.”

 

Hayden Paddon

“Not quite the day we wanted but we are still enjoying ourselves and doing the best we can. We started the morning loop knowing that we would be playing a waiting game. The way that the car has been set up for my driving meant we had to find a compromise between my own confidence and the outright performance in those first stages. The wider lines on the roads in the afternoon played more to my strengths, so we had to be patient and wait for the stages to come to us. We were definitely more comfortable to push in the repeat loop. It was fantastic to see so many fans enjoying the stages, especially through Colin’s Crest. Unfortunately, we lost a little time stuck in a snow bank on the final stage, but we are still in a good position to push on tomorrow.”

 

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Craig Breen

“I’m over the moon with my day and delighted with the pace we’ve shown. It’s something new for me to be fighting at the front in the world championship but you quickly get a taste for it! The afternoon was incredible for us, even though I couldn’t keep pace with Thierry right to the end. You can count on me to fight every step of the way to hold onto this second place.”

 

Mads Østberg

“Given that I’m still working out how best to set up the C3 WRC, I have to be pleased with what we have done so far. Rather than attempting to change everything in the middle of the race, which is always risky, we kept to the basic set-up defined in testing. I’m now trying to improve in my handling of the car as we complete more stages.”

Mads Ostberg and Torstein Erikson, are currently fifth for Citroen.

Kris Meeke

“Initially, I thought I was only going to lose about twenty seconds in this snow bank, but when I got going again, the car had no power. Snow had got into the engine and damaged the turbo. We had been focusing on getting tenth place up to that point and it seems like a heavy price to pay for such a minor mistake. Fresh snow forecast for tomorrow and we’ll be opening the road, so unfortunately, we don’t even have a realistic chance of getting any points on the Power Stage.”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Teemu Suninen

“I tried to change my driving style a bit this morning but it didn’t work out so well. The afternoon was better, but we still have some more to learn before we can be on the pace of the guys at the front. The main thing for us is to drive cleanly and get the experience, and there are still three more stages where we need to keep doing that tomorrow.”

 

Sébastien Ogier

“We can be satisfied with what we’ve done in the car today as we’ve made no mistakes and driven pretty cleanly all day. I tried to be as fast as I could with the conditions I had, but that’s all we could do from this position on the road.

“If you have a look at the top-three in the championship and where they are this weekend, it’s clear that none of us had a chance. There’s nothing wrong with the cars, it’s just that in these conditions it is impossible to compensate as the disadvantage is too big.”

Teemu Suninen is M-Sport Ford’s top runner in 8th position.

Elfyn Evans

“It’s been a pretty tough weekend for us and it wouldn’t go amiss to salvage some Power Stage points tomorrow. Our road position won’t make it easy as the stages are getting faster and faster with every car, but we’ll give it our best shot.”

 

Toyota Gazoo WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala  
“This morning was going well: I felt good and was enjoying the driving. This afternoon however the car was not behaving well at all. The front differential was not working correctly and I was losing a lot of time, but we are changing the transmission in service so this should be sorted out for tomorrow. Then I’m sure the confidence will come, and if I am feeling good on the start line before the Power Stage then there’s a chance we can score some points there.”

Ott Tänak  
“Overall the pace was quite good today and it was quite a lot more enjoyable. This morning the grip was much more consistent: more like a rally should be. The car was working perfectly in these conditions and it felt good to drive. This afternoon it was as tricky as I expected: it was more or less the same as yesterday, but we had a few more cars ahead of us so a few more lines to follow. We will try to do our best tomorrow and see what is possible on the Power Stage.”

Esapekka Lappi 
“It’s been a good day. We continued the same pace as yesterday, managing to do top five times on almost every stage, which is quite good, and it has been pretty consistent. We made some small changes in service which made the car better for the rutted roads. I don’t think I could have done better times because the road was getting cleaner car-by-car. We have a good fight going on with Östberg: for sure I want to pass him tomorrow.”

 

2018 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 02, Rally Sweden 2018 / February 15-18, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

 

Well, tomorrow sees three stages and 51km of action. Can Thierry win? It’s certainly his to lose. Craig has driven superbly all weekend, and which of the other Hyundai drivers will finish on the podium?

 

Rally Sweden- Hyundai make Friday their Own.

Well, what a day! At the start of the day, we saw more snowfall, which would lead to lots of problems for championship leader Seb in his Fiesta WRC as he acted as a snow plough.

 

Overnight leader Ott increased his lead by winning the first stage of the day, Hof-Finnskog, 21km of really tricky snow-covered stages, whilst Latvala, who started the day in second place would drop down into fifth place.       Those to benefit were Mads, Andreas (who lost his rear bumper in the stage) and Thierry. Just ten seconds covered the top six positions.

 

The following stage, Svullrya, was won by Thierry and this moved him from fourth into first place with Lappi also jumping ahead to third overall.

 

Röjden, the final stage of the morning loop saw some drama for Kris and Elfyn. They both hit something at the edge of the stage and suffered damage to wheels, with Kris getting a broken wheel and Elfyn suffering a puncture. Andreas won the stage and moved into second overall, whilst Citroen duo, Mads and Craig both moved up as well. Tanak dropped right back to seventh place after a disastrous stage. He was pretty angry about it.

Elfyn Evans suffered a puncture during stage four. Photo credit Colin Clark

The crews headed back to service for the midday break, with Seb and Elfyn looking to get some settings that would make the cars handle better.

 

The afternoon stages got underway with Hof-Finnskog just before 2pm and Hayden won it, with Craig second and Lappi in the Toyota third, which meant that the young Finn displaced Andreas from second overall. Also, with such a good time in the stage, Hayden lifted himself into sixth and was now just twelve seconds from the lead currently held by Thierry.

 

The following stage, Röjden was won by Craig who said it wasn’t a perfect run, but clearly good enough not only to win the stage, but also to move into third overall at the expense of Mads in the other Citroen.

 

Last stage then, Torsby, and Hayden flew though setting such a good time that it meant he and Seb jumped into third overall ahead of Craig and Mads, and we now had a Hyundai one-two-three!

 

So, what a day! Two different leaders and multiple changes in the top positions as well, Friday had it all.

Here’s the comments from the drivers.

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“What a day! We have just tried to stay focused on the job and doing what we can from our middle road position. We set ourselves the goal being consistent and fast, not making any mistakes. The car has felt good, the settings were spot on and I have felt comfortable. The cars at the front have suffered a bit in the snowy conditions. Every time I pushed I felt that I was creating faster lines for the guys behind to follow, so it was a tricky balance. To have finished the day with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRCs in the top-three is a good morale boost, but we know there is a long way to go. We are trying to fight for victory here, but we’ll have to see what we can do tomorrow.”

Thierry Neuville, Rally Sweden leader. Photo credit Jarno Saari.

Andreas Mikkelsen

“We have made a good start and for sure it’s great to see all three Hyundai Motorsport crews in the top-three at the end of Friday. We used the morning loop to build our confidence and rhythm. We were able to get better stage-by-stage, culminating in a stage win before lunchtime service. I have been really pleased with our progression. Of course, there is no question that the guys first on the road have a disadvantage, but it’s still tricky even for us running later. We took things a bit carefully in places. We have one notch in reserve if we need it, but that brings its own risks. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed driving at home with the stages in Norway today, and I hope that support can see us to a good result come Sunday afternoon.”

 

Hayden Paddon

“It is great to be back for our first WRC event of 2018. Our objective today was to get the rhythm back. The conditions were not easy. We had to be conscious of keeping the car in the lines, and adapting both the car and my driving to suit the stages. The ruts became really pronounced in the afternoon loop. If you go outside of the lines, you become a passenger in your own car, so we had to pull back a bit at times. The road position has helped but we wanted to have a sensible approach to the day, and a clean run, which we have had. There is room for improvement, but the positions are encouraging and there’ll be more to give tomorrow.”

 

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke

“It was a very difficult day for us, but we made it to the end. We weren’t very far off the pace of Tänak and Latvala, but I wasn’t comfortable enough nor prepared to risk everything, so I didn’t try to overcompensate. We won’t have a great road position tomorrow either, but we’ll try and adopt a sensible approach and keep any eye on what happens ahead of us. We’ll be ready to take advantage, if an opportunity to move up the leaderboard presents itself.”

 

Craig Breen

“I knew that I had a good road position today, but I’m really pleased that it went so well for me. My C3 WRC worked really well. Tomorrow will be an interesting day! We’ll have to see what happens with the weather, because there was already quite a lot of gravel showing through the ice this afternoon. When we did recce, tomorrow’s stages were in poorer condition than those we did today, so the conditions may be more difficult on the second pass.”

Craig Breen, Scott Martin. Photo credit Citroen Racing

Mads Østberg

“It wasn’t an easy day, but I’m very happy. When we got here, I didn’t expect to be on the pace so quickly. This afternoon, the road conditions were really different to those we had in testing, and my set-up wasn’t ideal. But I fought hard and I also learned a lot about the C3 WRC. I have high hopes that this will help me to be more competitive for the rest of the rally. Especially as I have always been more comfortable on the Swedish stages than the ones in Norway, so I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow!”

 

M-Sport Ford WRT

Teemu Suninen

“I’ve been quite happy with our performance today. There are still some things that we need to improve for tomorrow as we’re still not on the pace to fight with the leading cars. It’s been okay, and I need to get the experience, but I would still like to show an improvement and do a bit better tomorrow.”

Teemu Suninen, placed sixth overall. Photo credit M-Sport Ford WRT

Elfyn Evans

“It’s not been the best of days out there. I think it’s fair to say that we were struggling for some pace this morning, but we were pretty unfortunate to pick up the puncture. Quite a few of the top cars hit the same stone, so it was just our bad luck. But to be honest, we were still struggling after that so we’ll make some changes tonight and see what we can do tomorrow.”

 

Sébastien Ogier

“It’s been a difficult day, but one that we couldn’t do anything about. Opening the road, we knew that the conditions would be a challenge – especially on the second pass – but it was worse than any of us had expected.

 

“We tried to push a couple of times, but in these conditions it’s a fight just to stay on the road. And behind, everyone is taking the same line and it’s getting faster and faster with every car.

 

“We know that the conditions will not be any easier tomorrow, but we’re so far behind that there’s nothing more to lose – we just have to go out there and see what happens.”

 

Toyota Gazoo WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala

“It has been a really demanding day. Firstly, we had the fresh snow this morning and then on the second pass through the stages we had to follow the narrower lines of the historic cars and it was extremely slippery outside of those lines. I could not really push any more than I did, but that’s the way it is. I have been quite happy with the car and tomorrow will hopefully be a more positive situation for us.”

2018 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 02, Rally Sweden 2018 / February 15-18, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Ott Tänak

“Today has been really tough. There were some extremely difficult conditions, with a lot of snow. It looks nice from the outside but on the road it’s quite a struggle and it is difficult to find any grip. It would be nice if we could be last on the road tomorrow but unfortunately the road position will be the same as today, so it will be a similarly hard job. I think in the end we need to survive and to collect as many points as possible. Let’s do the best we can.”

 

Esapekka Lappi

“The conditions were quite tricky. The second loop was even tougher than the first: it was very easy to make a mistake because the ruts were very deep and there was a lot of loose snow. I kissed a snow bank with the front of the car and got too much snow in the air filter, so I was lacking power in the last five kilometres and we lost half a minute. We are still in the game with two days to go though, and I think that there were also many positives today. I was a bit surprised with how good my speed was, so I just need to take that feeling with me for tomorrow and enjoy it.”

 

Overall Classification- Friday

  1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1:16:13.1
  2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4.9
  3. Hayden Paddon / Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.1
  4. Craig Breen / Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +12.6
  5. Mads Østberg / Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +13.2
  6. Teemu Suninen / Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.6
  7. Esapekka Lapp / Janne Ferme (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.5
  8. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:06.2
  9. Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:29.0
  10. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroen DS3 WRC) +1:43.6
  11. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:41.3
  12. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2:48.8

 

Tomorrow sees eight stages and the amazing Colins Crest which is in Vargasen and someone will try I believe to beat the record distance, which is currently 45 metres!

 

Enjoy!

Rally Sweden- Day One, Shakedown and Stage One Report.

It was an early start for the teams with shakedown at 8am! Beautiful conditions awaited them all. A real winter wonderland!

Kris and Paul during Rally Sweden shakedown this morning. Photo credit Citroen Racing

Shakedown was saw a welcome return for Mads Ostberg in a Citroen C3, and for a while, he was fastest of all, finally finishing just behind Thierry who emerged fastest by just 3 tenths of a second on the 6.8km stage held on the roads around Skalla. Elfyn Evans suffered some problems with the electrics, but once those had been solved, set a very good time.

Shakedown Standings

Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:17.3

Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:17.6

Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:18.1

Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:18.3

Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:18.7

Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:18.8

Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:19.0

Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:19.1

Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:19.2

Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:19.3

 

As usual, it was a really close-run thing.

Moving onto the first stage, we saw the cars go head-to-head around the 1.9km Karlstad stage. Emerging fastest, was young Estonian, Ott Tanak with Jari-Matti just three tenths off in second and Mads showing he’s right on the pace a further three tenths behind.

 

End of day one (Thursday):

1 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 1m32.7s

2 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +0.3s

3 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +0.6s

4 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +0.9s

5 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +0.9s

6 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.0s

7 Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2.1s

8 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.2s

9 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2.5s

10 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +2.9

2018 FIA World Rally Championship / Round 02, Rally Sweden 2018 / February 15-18, 2018 // Worldwide Copyright: Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC

Tomorrow’s sees seven stages held, of which two are run fully in Norway and one which crosses the border. Let’s see what the day brings us!

Friday’s stages

6.00am: Start day 2 and Service A (Torsby – 15 mins)

7.55am: SS 2 – Hof-Finnskog 1 (21,26 km)

9.07am: SS 3 – Svullrya 1 (24,88 km)

9.54am: SS 4 – Röjden 1 (19,13 km)

11.31am: Service B (Torsby – 30 mins)

1.41pm: SS 5 – Hof-Finnskog 2 (21,26 km)

3.03pm: SS 6 – Svullrya 2 (24,88 km)

3.50pm: SS 7 – Röjden 2 (19,13 km)

4.56pm: SS 8 – Torsby 1 (9,56 km)

5.31pm: Flexi Service C (Torsby – 45 mins)

Rally Sweden 2018 Preview!

Its time for Round Two! The WRC heads for the amazing snow-covered roads of Sweden, one of the fastest rallies of the year! Helping the drivers keep a grip will be the special tyres that Michelin bring.

 

Two centimetres narrower that their gravel equivalent, and a full five centimetres narrower than the tarmac version, Michelin’s “Sweden” tyre mainly stands out due to the 384 studs glued into drilled holes on the tyre tread. The studs provide such a high level of grip that at equivalent speeds, the braking distances are the same as on dry tarmac! The challenge in Sweden therefore consists of taking great care of these twenty-millimetre-long spikes, which protrude around seven millimetres from the tread blocks. The Scandinavian rally is also one of the few events where taking two spare wheels, especially on the second pass when gravel begins to appear and lines form, actually helps performance. The challenge is to switch tyres at the right moment, so that the studs wear out evenly, and avoid having an uneven tyre set-up.

 

This year there are 19 stages and a total of 314,25 competitive km’s.

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

 

Here’s the full details of the stages!

 

THURSDAY 15 FEBRUARY

8.00am: shakedown (Skalla)

8.04pm: Start day 1 (Karlstad)

8.08pm: SS 1 – Karlstad (1,90 km)

9.54pm: End of day 1

 

FRIDAY 16 FEBRUARY

6.00am: Start day 2 and Service A (Torsby – 15 mins)

7.55am: SS 2 – Hof-Finnskog 1 (21,26 km)

9.07am: SS 3 – Svullrya 1 (24,88 km)

9.54am: SS 4 – Röjden 1 (19,13 km)

11.31am: Service B (Torsby – 30 mins)

1.41pm: SS 5 – Hof-Finnskog 2 (21,26 km)

3.03pm: SS 6 – Svullrya 2 (24,88 km)

3.50pm: SS 7 – Röjden 2 (19,13 km)

4.56pm: SS 8 – Torsby 1 (9,56 km)

5.31pm: Flexi Service C (Torsby – 45 mins)

 

SATURDAY 17 FEBRUARY

7.05am: Start day 3 and Service D (Torsby – 15 mins)

7.54am: SS 9 – Torntorp 1 (19,88 km)

9.12am: SS 10 – Hagfors 1 (23,40 km)

10.08am: SS 11 – Vargasen 1 (14,21 km)

11.40am: Service E (Torsby – 30 mins)

12.44pm: SS 12 – Torntorp 2 (19,88 km)

2.12pm: SS 13 – Hagfors 2 (23,40 km)

3.08pm: SS 14 – Vargasen 2 (14,21 km)

5.45pm: SS 15 – Karlstad 2 (1,90 km)

7.26pm: SS 16 – Torsby Sprint (3,43 km)

7.56pm: Flexi Service F (Torsby – 45 mins)

 

SUNDAY 18 FEBRUARY

6.30am: Start day 4 and Service G (Torsby – 15 mins)

7.50am: SS 17 – Likenäs 1 (21,19 km)

9.51am: SS 18 – Likenäs 2 (21,19 km)

12.18pm: SS 19 – Torsby 2 (9,56 km)

 

1.00pm: Podium (Torsby)

 

 

Here’s the views of all the teams then!

M-Sport Ford

Sébastien Ogier

“It looks as though we are in for a true winter rally next week with everything needed for a classic Rally Sweden. Reports from the region suggest that there’s a good ice base and high snow banks which is everything a driver wants to hear ahead of this event.

“In those conditions, we can reach incredible speeds and lean the cars on the snow banks to help guide us through the corners. It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s not without its challenges.

“There’s certainly an art to driving on snow and you need to be precise. You have to judge the strength of the snow banks perfectly and – with more snow than previous years – there could be a lot of work to do on the Pacenotes.

“As the first car on the road, we’ll also have to wait and see what the conditions are like and we’re certainly not hoping to see any fresh snow on Friday.

“We got the season off to a great start last month, but we all know how strong the competition is and we’re expecting it to be even stronger next week. The Scandinavians are always strong here, but we plan to give them a hard time and secure another strong haul of points for our championship defence.”

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

Elfyn Evans

“Rally Sweden is an event that everyone looks forward to. On a classic Rally Sweden – like what we’re expecting this year – we can reach incredible speeds and if you get it right it’s easily one of the most enjoyable rallies on the calendar.

“The feeling on snow isn’t a million miles away from driving on gravel, but there are certain techniques that we’ll need to adapt and it can take a bit of getting used to at first.

“Vision can often be a challenge – particularly if there is a lot of fresh snow making it difficult to read the road ahead. Our Pacenotes and recce are going to have to be spot on, but we’re ready for it and really looking forward to it.

“There’s something of a score to settle after Monte where we were capable of achieving more than we did, so let’s see what we can do in Sweden.”

 

Teemu Suninen

“We’ve just completed some good test kilometres in Northern Sweden which went really well. I’ve not driven the Fiesta WRC since last year’s Rally Finland, so that gave us a chance to get familiar with the car and we’re now feeling well prepared for the start of the rally.

“It would be amazing to challenge for a podium again. Perhaps that is a realistic goal, but we would have to deliver the perfect rally to achieve it. With eight events this year, we also have to consider a slightly different approach. In 2017, we were solely focused on our future and showing what we could do, but this time we also have to think about the team and scoring points for the manufacturers’ championship.

“In terms of the weather, there have been talks of freezing temperatures and high snow banks but we’ll have to wait for the recce before we can see for ourselves. Whatever the conditions, the speed is always high. On a rally as fast as this the seconds are harder to gain, and we will have to be on the pace from the very first stage.”

 

Citroen Abu Dhabi WRT

Kris Meeke

“It looks like we going to get perfect winter conditions this year and like all the WRC drivers, I can’t wait to get started! In the last few seasons, with a limited amount of snow, you had to be very cautious or risk getting stuck in a snow bank after the slightest impact. The snow banks seem to be bigger and more compact this time around, so we’ll undoubtedly be able to drive more aggressively and use the banks more, although we may need a bit of time to get used to that. In any event, it’s an exciting challenge that I’m going to try and tackle with the same sensible approach as in Monte-Carlo.”

Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, Rally Sweden 2017. Photo Credit, Citroen

Craig Breen

“Between the start and end of last season, the C3 WRC made a lot of progress on gravel, so I hope it’ll be the same on snow and ice. Especially as Sweden is one of my favourite rallies, and one where I feel really confident. In fact, I had my very first race in a WRC here in 2014 and also made my maiden appearance in Sweden with Citroën Racing in 2016. After a difficult Monte, I’d love to get decent points on the board. And it looks like the road conditions will be perfect for this year’s rally, with really solid snow banks that are forgiving if you make a relatively minor mistake.”

 

Mads Ostberg

“Rally Sweden is a special event for me and I have always been quick here, so I’m very happy to have this opportunity to rejoin the team. I’m hoping to make the most of the shakedown at Satory and then the day of pre-event testing to adapt quickly to the C3 WRC. In any case, I’m already up to speed in these conditions, having contested two winter rallies in Norway, the second of which I won. With the bigger snow banks this year, the roads are likely to be narrower and more technically demanding, so perhaps we Scandinavians may be able to take advantage of our greater experience in conditions like these.”

 

Toyota Gazoo WRT

Jari-Matti Latvala

“Sweden is one of my favourite rallies and actually the place where I took my first WRC victory 10 years ago – although it really doesn’t feel like so long ago! Compared to last year I think we have a better car: we concentrated on improving it on the slower and more technical sections during our test, and we definitely made a step forward in this area. Having said that, the competition is even tougher this year: within our own team as well. It’s going to be a really nice challenge in proper winter conditions and that of course helps me raise my own game; I’m confident we can fight for the win again. This weekend I’m also taking part in a local rally on snow in Finland with Juho Hänninen in my historic Toyota Celica, so this will be a lot of fun and the perfect way to prepare.”

Last years winners for Toyota Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Antilla tackle Colins Crest. Photo Credit, Toyota Gazoo WRT

 

Ott Tänak

“I’m still learning about the Yaris WRC, but after driving it on snow during the test I’m beginning to understand why Jari-Matti won in Sweden last year. For the first part of the rally we’ll just have to see how everything goes, but of course I’m hoping that we can fight for the podium and even the win. If the snow is heavy on the stages, which seems to be the case, our start position of second on the road won’t be ideal, but of course the weather can change. I’m just going to enjoy the weekend and do my best. There’s a lot more still to come.”

Esapekka Lappi

“It took me a few days to get over the disappointment of losing fourth place in Monte-Carlo on the last stage, but in the end, there were more positives than negatives. Up to that point, we had driven a very consistent rally, and my aim is to do the same in Sweden. We had a good test and did around 400 kilometres in two days, which was enough for me to get a good feel. Our car should be well-suited to Sweden but it’s a very different type of rally to Monte-Carlo: in Monte, sometimes you have to be brave by going slow enough, whereas in Sweden you need a different type of commitment. I didn’t compete on the rally last year, so I am missing a bit of experience, but snow is a surface I always feel comfortable on.”

 

Hyundai Motorsport

Andreas Mikkelsen

“Rally Sweden is a very special event for me because of the opportunity we have to go rallying across the border into my home country of Norway. We have a lot of support from fans, family and friends. It’s a beautiful event and the only one we get to tackle completely on snow and ice with proper studded tyres. They give amazing grip and the feeling is unbelievable. We expect a good number of snow banks this year, so we will be able to explore the limits.”

Thierry Neuville

“We had good speed on the Swedish and Norwegian stages last year but unfortunately things didn’t end well when we were forced to retire on the penultimate day. This year, I am aiming to challenge once again for the win but with a far better outcome. Sweden is truly a unique event; the only one where we can compete with fully studded tyres for the complete rally. As one of the fastest rallies of the season, it’s an exhilarating one from inside the cockpit and for the fans lining the stages. We want to put on a good show and, most importantly, deliver a good result.”

Hayden Paddon

“I can’t wait to get my 2018 season underway finally. It feels like a long time since we were competing in Australia.  Sweden will be a fresh start for us. I have good memories from finishing on the podium two years ago, and I will be trying to repeat some of that performance. It was great to get re-acquainted with the car in testing recently. We were able to enjoy some outstanding winter driving conditions. More of that in the rally, as well as a decent result, would be the perfect start to my season.”

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

 

Now, there are lots of spectacular stages in this event, none more so than Vargasen, which features Colins Crest! Lots of fans base themselves there, just to see these amazing cars fly through the air and last year, Mads got the biggest jump of the event.

This year looks to be just as amazing! There has been a lot of snow, which means the snow banks are of very good quality!

We’ve got the returning Hayden and Mads, plus a good battle between Ott and Seb. What chance we have seeing a different driver leading the championship on Sunday afternoon?

 

Enjoy!