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:
Rally leader Sebastien Ogier continued to edge ahead of the chasing pack on the repeated Varmullsasen stage. Another quickest time for the Frenchman, his fourth of the day, moved him 24.1sec clear at the top of the leaderboard.
Ogier had a clean run through in his Polo R but found the final ski-slope descent difficult on studded tyres that had lost some of their bite. “Everything is okay but I had to take it a little bit more carefully near the end. It’s not easy to stay on the road in these conditions when the tyres are a bit old,” he explained.
Mads Ostberg was second fastest, 2.3sec slower than Ogier, and also thinking about his tyres ahead of the repeat of the 24km Vargasen. “There’s was a lot of gravel in there and I have only one spare tyre, so I had to take it carefully to keep them in decent condition for the last stage. I think they are okay,” he said.
After his earlier scare with a broken cooling system, Ostberg was content to be fourth with his Fiesta back at full strength. “It’s working very well and I’m quite pleased. It’s now a lot calmer in the car and I think we are managing quite well."
Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest, with Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala fourth to hold second overall. “We’re losing studs from the front tyres and that led to a few moments near the end. It’s a good job we have two spare tyres for the next one,” said Latvala.
Sebastien Loeb rounded off the top five times. The nine-time world champion slid wide into a snow bank before the flying finish and admitted the stage hadn’t been one of his tidiest. “I made a few mistakes, and I have a bit too much understeer so it’s difficult to keep the car on the racing line. It was really tricky.”
Loeb also slowed to pass spectators helping his Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo who had gone off the road. Sordo’s DS3 was eventually manhandled back onto the stage and the Spaniard completed but the incident cost him more than four minutes, dropping him from eighth to thirteenth.
Jari Ketomaa retired on the road section between SS5 and SS6. The Finn’s Fiesta RS driver is reported to have a broken driveshaft.