A new test for 2013, but built using bits of stages run in previous years. Varmullsasen is a medium to wide road and was completely covered with snow and ice on the recce. It is one of the fastest of the rally, with long flat-out straights and fast sweeping corners. It ends on a ski slope, with a spectacular sequence of hairpin corners and a huge jump just before the flying finish.
How the action unfolded:
Polo R driver Sebastien Ogier was fastest once again on Friday’s second test, the Frenchman completing Varmullsasen 3.1sec quicker than his closest rival on the stage, Mads Ostberg. Sebastien Loeb was third fastest, 5.2sec off Ogier’s pace.
“Another good stage for us. A little problem with the shifting, but okay,” Ogier reported at the finish control.
Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala slipped to third when a layer of fresh snow on the road gave him handling concerns. “It’s alright but I’m struggling a little bit to get confident and I’m worried about losing the rear. Everywhere else is okay it’s just that. I think we can improve things by changing the set-up,” he said.
Now up to second, Loeb was happy with a clean run in his Citroen DS3. “It was a good drive with no mistakes - and that’s the most important thing. There’s still some snow around, but the bite was better in this stage than the first,” he said.
After some worrying over-heating issues on SS2, Ostberg’s Fiesta RS seemed to be running sweetly at the end of SS3. The Norwegian and co-driver Jonas Andersson made roadside repairs to the cooling system on the pre-stage road section but collected a 30-second penalty for checking-in late. Despite his excellent stage time, a still furious Ostberg said nothing at the finish control.
WRC Academy graduate Pontus Tidemand continued his sensational form, going fifth fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS. The Swede, 22, moved up to fourth overall. “It’s going good, we’re really happy,” he said.
Jarkko Nikara lost the dubious honour of being first in the running order when he went off near the start, burying his MINI in a snow bank. Fellow MINI pilot Michal Kosciusko now heads the field. “It’s a tough position to be in,” acknowledged Kosciuszko. “From the moment we passed Nikara it got more slippery.”