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SS14: Mikkelsen slip
wrecks podium bid

Andreas Mikkelsen’s podium hopes at Rally Sweden suffered a major blow after a pace note mistake sent him careering off the road in the Rämmen speed test.

Stage info: SS14

Rämmen 2, 22.76km
The second-longest stage of the rally, Rammen’s wide roads and flat-out straights make it one of the fastest. Early in the test the road skirts the edge of Lake Holmsjön and follows the shores of another lake later on. Four uphill open hairpins near the midpoint calm the pace.

The Norwegian hoped to take advantage of better road conditions to close in on the third place he ceded to Mads Østberg in the previous Vargåsen test. However, an over-ambitious note near the finish cost the Volkswagen Polo R driver dear.

“The pace note was too positive, it wasn’t 100 per cent accurate,” he admitted. “We went off and had to find a place to turn around. We lost a lot of time. The next stage will be really hard at the front of the running order and if I was to have any chance of fighting for third then I had to take my chance in this one.”

Mikkelsen dropped almost 20sec to his fellow countryman and the gap between them widened to 29.7sec.

The relatively snow-free conditions suited road opener Sébastien Ogier, who gave it his all to gain 1.4sec in his Polo R on second-placed Hayden Paddon.

“I was completely flat out. I took so many risks and couldn’t have gone any faster. We’ll lose time in the next one when Vargåsen is repeated,” said Ogier.

Paddon admitted there was less snow than expected. “We had a nice pace, trying to keep it smooth and looking after the tyres as well,” said the New Zealand Hyundai i20 pilot.

Henning Solberg dropped a handful of seconds by stalling his Ford Fiesta RS at the start and the gap to Dani Sordo widened to 6.1sec in their fight for sixth.

Jari-Matti Latvala won the stage from Kris Meeke at an average of 123.55kph, the fastest of the rally.

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