Sebastien Ogier continued his excellent start to the 2016 WRC season on the opening day of Rally Sweden, with a lead of 26.9 seconds over Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon.
Weather worries in Sweden prompted the cancellation of the 1.9km first Super-Speical stage of the event in Karlstad, meaning that the first round occurred on Friday morning in Torsby.
Stages on Friday
SS1 – Karlstad (Super-Special), 1.9km
SS2 – Torsby 1, 16.48km
SS3 – Röjden 1, 18.47km
SS4 – Svullrya 1, 24.23km
SS5 – Kirkenær 1, 7.07km
SS6 – Kirkenær 2, 7.07km
SS7 – Svullrya 2, 24.23km
SS8 – Röjden 2, 18.47km
SS9 – Torsby 2, 16.48km
Lack of snowfall in Sweden meant that the studded Michelin tyres were not suitable to some of the roads, and so the two stages in Kirkenær were cancelled, meaning no mid-day service stop for any cars.
This was awful news for Jari-Matti Latvala, who landed awkwardly after a small bump at the end of SS2, breaking his driveshaft. The Norwegian said “I will drive, but I don’t know what spares we have in the car. Will have to have a look”.
An unseen water splash caught out his VW team mates Ogier and Mikkelsen, who both slid into some light branches after a large puddle caught them out. Neither took too much damage, although both suffered damage to the left-front wing of the car.
The Frenchman later made a mistake in SS8, missing a junction and sliding gently into a road barrier. While he escaped without damage, Kris Meeke was much less fortunate close to the end of the rally. Just like in Monte, the non-works Citroen driver hit a hidden rock buried in the middle of the corner, and completely ruined his steering, and forcing him to miss the final stage of the day.
Ogier dominated the first three stages of the day, with Meeke taking the honours in SS7, just before he broke his steering. The unexpected pace of Hayden Paddon in the new Hyundai i20 caused a scare for the leader at the end of the day though, and while the Frenchman went off, Paddon capitalised and took the fastest times of the day in the final two stages to close up into second place.
Standings after Day 1(SS2-4, 7-9)
1) Sebastien Ogier, VW Motorsport Polo R, 1:03:10.6
2) Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport, i20, +26.9
3) Mads Ostberg, M-Sport, Fiesta RS, +33.7
4) Ott Tanak, DMACK, Fiesta RS, +34.8
5) Dani Sordo, Hyundai Motorsport, i20, +38.2
6) Andreas Mikkelsen, VW Motorsport II, Polo R +42.0
7) Henning Solberg, Adapta, Fiesta RS +1:36.9
8) Craig Breen, Abu Dhabi Total, DS3, +1:38.8
9) Eric Camilli, M-Sport, Fiesta RS, +2:43.5
10) Lorenzo Bertelli, FWRT, Fiesta RS, +3:08.6
POS) Driver, Team, Car, Time/split
*Note, only top 10 positions are shown