07 Feb 08
Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala took the lead of the Swedish Rally after a dominating performance on Friday’s opening challenge, the 15km Stensjon stage.
The Finn, running tenth on the road, completed the test three seconds quicker than his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen who was next fastest.
Latvala said that his road position was advantageous because a lot of the loose snow had been swept away by the cars ahead, exposing the frozen gravel beneath. “It’s started really well actually,” said Latvala. “I’m in the perfect road position to get a benefit on the first pass through the stages so I have to use it. In the afternoon it will be more difficult, so I’ve got to push hard now and not make any silly mistakes.”
Tackling the stages in championship order meant Sebastien Loeb was the first car through, and the Frenchman was not comfortable with the conditions he faced. “It’s very tricky for me, the snow is very soft and I lost grip all the time”, he said. “It’s not constant - sometimes there’s ice, sometimes snow - and I don’t like it. We really need to get through to the gravel below - then the grip will be better.”