Both Hyundai drivers finished the rally but were not able to score points, Juho Hanninen finished 19th overall with some off-road incidents, Thierry Neuville finished 28th struggling to find pace. Robert Kubica also finished lower down the order 24th overall, as it was leap into the unkown for the Pole.
Round Two of WRC, Rally Sweden, in the frozen forests of Scandinavia has come to an end, and the results surprised many as top four spots was occupied by Scandinavian drivers! And total 6 Scandinavian drivers in top 10 elite WRC finishers.
The action unfolded with the SSS of Karlstad, and it was won by Andreas Mikkelsen, fellow Norwegian driver. The real test began from SS2 which ran through frozen forests, the main problem for drivers was managing tyres, lack of snow means they will be on gravel on studds! Ogier showed it how to do it by winning SS2 and jumping into lead. SS3 was also won by Ogier, followed by Mikkelsen and Latvala making it a VW trio on the overall leaderboard. SS4 went to Mikkelsen, again showing what he can do on his home surface. Next three stages was won by Ott Tanak, Andreas Mikkelsen and Sebastien Ogier respectively bringing the day to an end. After Leg 1 VW trio were leading the rally, led by Ogier, Mikkelsen and Latvala, Ott Tanak was in fourth showing impressive pace in his Fiesta WRC. Citroen driver Mads Ostberg was in fifth struggling to find a pefrect balance with his car. Mikko too was out of pace lying in sixth, in the rally which he won previously. Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Juho Hanninen were in seventh and eight respectively, trying to keep up with top guns as their main goal was to finish the event. It was all difficult for snow debutants Kubica, Evans and Kris Meeke.
Leg 2 of Rally Sweden was all set for the VW battle to resume. And it all changed in the opening stage thats SS8. Sebastien Ogier made a mistake, got stuck in a snowbank and lost the lead and slipped to 20th overall. Mikkelsen took the advantage and won the stage and took the rally lead followed by Latvala, Mads Ostberg too found some pace and stormed to third overall. Very next stage was Ogiers turn to win making up for the mistake. SS9 again changed the rally Leader this time its Latvala. SS11 was won by Henning Solberg showing he has got the pace inspite of staying away from WRC for a long time. The next four stages was won by Ogier fighting back up the leaderboard and the last SSS was won by Mikkelsen. After end of Leg2, Latvala was in lead followed by Mikkelsen in second, Mads Ostberg in third, Mikko in fourth, Tanak in fifth, Meeke, Solberg, Tidemand in sixth, seventh and eighth repectively. Ogier fought all day and made it to ninth overall an impressive drive from Frenchman. Evans rounded off the top 10.
Leg 3 and the stage was set for the battle of Scandinavian‘s for the rally lead. Latvala made a good start by winning first stage of day thats SS17 and stamped his authority on the rally. Next it was another three in a row stage wins for Finn Latvala and built a healthy lead over his compatriot Mikkelsen. SS21 was cancelled. Which means Latvala was only three stages away from his victory. And next three stages he took it cool and calm and made it to finish and won Rally Sweden for third time. Andreas Mikkelsen surprised and impressed by his pace and finished runner up, it was a dream come true for him! Mads Ostberg completed the podium, finally getting some pace and got to understand the car. Mikko Hirvonen finished fourth, a point finish and getting some pace. Ott Tanak had a impressive rally, getting into pace very quickly and finishing fifth. Ogier’s fightback has made him to occupy sixth overall. Henning Solberg had a solid drive and was seventh overall. Local star Pontus Tidemand finished eight and brought smiles on faces of local fans. Craig Breen and Kris Meeke rounded off the top 10 WRC finishers.
WRC 2 was won by Karl Kruuda, a last stage win for him and his maiden victory in a rally. WRC 2 also had surprises! Finn Jari Ketomaa finished second and local star Fredrik Ahlin finished third in his Fiesta R5.
Well it was a action packed Rally Sweden, also with some dramas! Winter is gone now and the heat and dust of Rally Mexico is waiting next! Untill then Happy Rallying!