Rally Sweden driver
report - part 2
We complete our review of the leading WRC drivers from last weekend’s snowy (sometimes) action at Rally Sweden.
Kris Meeke (Citroen DS3)
Mature drive from the Northern Irishman on his first full winter rally. Took his time to settle in as he came to terms with snow and studded tyres, before climbing the order. Looked comfortable in sixth until he nosed into a snow bank on the inside of a left-hander on the final morning. It took seven minutes to dig the DS3 out again and sixth became 10th. Deserved better.
Juho Hanninen (Hyundai i20)
Hyundai is doing its testing in public and needs its drivers to avoid mistakes. Hanninen, like Thierry Neuville, bowed out of leg 2 early when he swiped a rock on the inside of a corner and the front suspension broke. He was sixth at the time and his pace throughout the opening leg wasn’t that far from Neuville’s. When will we see him again? Rumours suggest he might get the nod for Portugal.
Mads Ostberg (Citroen DS3)
Mads experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum. Lacked confidence and unhappy with his car’s set-up for much of the opening leg in Norway. But came to life after making changes and took charge of his battle for third with Hirvonen and Tanak. Claimed his fourth consecutive Swedish podium, won the Power Stage and lies third in the driver standings. Pretty impressive for his first WRC start on the loose in the DS3.
Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS)
Another snow rally virgin and learned plenty. Found his limits with a couple of spins but was sitting pretty in ninth until he learned a whole load more in the last stage. Put the Fiesta onto its side in a tightening corner and that was game over. Still, gaining experience was the name of the game and he completed all but a handful of kilometres. Will be happy to bid farewell to Monte and Sweden in favour of Mexico’s gravel.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
Breakthrough performance from the Norwegian – in terms of both his speed and his laser-like focus on the job in hand. Laid down a marker by winning the opening stage, regained the lead when Ogier went off and then Latvala couldn’t shake him off. A couple of mistakes ended his hopes of victory but a maiden podium was well deserved. One of two contenders for drive of the rally…
Ott Tanak (Ford Fiesta RS)
And the Estonian was the other. Out of the WRC for more than 12 months after a difficult 2012 at M-Sport saw him lose his seat for 2013. Won only his fifth stage back in a World Rally Car and his speed in the opening leg even surprised himself. Had a few pace note issues in the second leg but was happy with fifth. Outside the car he won friends with a more chatty, outgoing personality than we saw previously. Welcome back Ott!
Martin Prokop (Ford Fiesta RS)
Tough weekend for the amiable Czech. He buried himself in a snow bank in Thursday’s opening stage, unwittingly providing one of the rally’s comedy moments as he roared off down the road dragging along two willing fans still attached to the rope they had used to pull him out. Did the same again on the final morning only this time there was nobody around to help him back. The season can only get better.