Sebastien Ogier continued to resist pressure from New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon on the second day of the WRC Rally Sweden as it entered Norway, for a few stages. A gap of 17.1 seconds over Paddon, followed by the Norwegian contingent of Mads Ostberg and Andreas Mikkelsen – gives him the perfect opportunity to take the honours on Sunday.
As with Friday’s running, a reduced itinerary had been planned ahead of the event, with three removed from the roster for Saturday.
Stages 12 and 16 saw drivers compete the tricky ‘Colin’s Crest’ jump, a blind peak named after the late Colin McRae, over which cars literally fly and is one of the most spectacular sights of the entire calendar.
Stages on Saturday
SS10 – Fredriksberg 1, 18.19 km
SS11 – Rämmen 1, 22.76 km
SS12 – Vargåsen 1, 24.70 km
SS13 – Fredriksberg 2, 18.9 km
SS14 – Rämmen 2, 22.76 km
SS15 – Hagfors Sprint, 1.87 km
SS16 – Vargåsen 2, 24.70 km
SS17 – Karlstad (Super-Special), 1.9km
Saturday morning’s trip through Fredriksberg saw Ogier take the quickest time, but his team mate Jari-Matti Latvala was still having a rotten time, coming home with a puncture thanks to some stones. Dani Sordo also had a tricky first stage of the day with a puncture, also on the left front, not helping his time as he came in over a minute slower than Ogier.
However, neither were as unfortunate as Eric Camilli, who went off the road in SS10 and rolled his Fiesta RS, completely destroying it, along with any hopes of points.
Kris Meeke had to retire on Friday afternoon after an encounter with a stone in the road, but was allowed to re-start under WRC2 specification on Saturday after fixing his Citroen’s steering.
Hayden Paddon kept Ogier honest through the first few stages on Saturday, and had cut the gap to 8 seconds by the mid-point, but some risky and aggressive driving from the Frenchman illustrated why he’s yet to be beaten in three years in the sport.
The fearsome Colin’s Crest peak in SS12 & 16 did not claim any casualties with all drivers navigating the jump without damage, and in fact, a new furthest jump was recorded by Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen driving for M-Sport in a Ford Fiesta R5.
His jump of 45 metres just edges ahead of the 44m record set by Thierry Neuville at the event last year and was performed in fifth gear at roughly 165 kilometers per hour.
A high-speed moment of oversteer for Ogier could have proved disastrous in SS16, but VW’s leading driver proved his talents once more to lead the pack going in to the final day of running on Sunday.
Standings after Day 2 (SS10, 12, 14, 16-17)
1) Sebastien Ogier, VW Motorsport, Polo R, (1:52:04.7)
2) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport, i20 (+17.1)
3) Mads Ostberg, M-Sport, Fiesta RS (+42.3)
4) Andreas Mikkelsen, VW MotorsportII, Polo R,(+1:07.4)
5) Ott Tanak, DMACK, Ford Fiesta RS (+1:31.6)
6) Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport, i20 (+1:56.3)
7) Henning Solberg, Adapta, Ford Fiesta RS (+2:17.2)
8) Craig Breen, Abu Dhabi Total, DS3 (+2:0.8)
9) Elfyn Evans, M-Sport, Fiesta R5 (+4:44.7) WRC2
10) Pontus Tidemand, Skoda Motorsport, Fabia R5 (+5:02.6) WRC2
POS, Driver, Team, Car, Time/Split