In a repeat of last night’s curtain-raiser, sweeping bends, a spectacular jump and a great atmosphere were the hallmarks of today’s final stage at Karlstad’s horse trotting track. Drivers tackled two laps of the ice-covered test in head-to-head duels.
How the action unfolded:
Mikko Hirvonen gained some happiness from a disastrous day when he shared fastest time with Thierry Neuville through the second and final run at the Karlstad super special stage tonight.
The Finn, whose victory hopes ended just 1km into this morning’s opening stage when he rolled his Citroen DS3 into a snow bank, outpaced Mads Ostberg in their head-to-head duel.
“That’s more like it!” said Hirvonen. “I’m really happy with the car. Tomorrow I’ll have a difficult road position, maybe second or third on the road, so that won’t be easy.”
Matching his pace was Neuville, whose Fiesta RS defeated Jarkko Nikara’s MINI John Cooper Works. “The start line was very slippery, so I tried to do a different start and it worked out,” said 24-year-old Neuville.
Third was Sebastien Loeb, 0.3sec behind the leading duo, with Jari-Matti Latvala in fourth, a further 0.2sec behind. Latvala said he made changes to the set-up of his Volkswagen Polo R at the Hagfors service before the stage ahead of tomorrow’s second leg.
Tied in fifth were Mads Ostberg and Pontus Tidemand.
The rally continues tomorrow when drivers leave Karlstad at 06.15hrs. After service at Hagfors Airport, the opening stage is the 14.23km Sagen which starts at 08.47hrs.