14 Feb 10
Swedish driver P-G Andersson held his nerve through Sunday's final stages to seal a dominant victory in the inaugural S-WRC event on his home round of the WRC.
His win today was the first in the FIA's new competition for four-wheel drive normally aspirated Super 2000 cars - the vehicles on which the 2011 season World Rally Cars will be based.
Spurred on by crowds of supporters, Andersson, who won the J-WRC titles in 2004 and 2007, streaked into the lead on Friday's opening stage and stayed there for the rest of the rally, taking nine consecutive stage wins along the way.
Andersson and co-driver Anders Fredriksson crossed the finish podium in Karlstad today 57.3seconds ahead of second placed Janne Tuohino, and tenth in the overall classification, ahead of many drivers in World Rally Cars.
"It feels fantastic to win here," said Andersson. "We made a good start on Friday, but Saturday and today have been very tough on the brain - trying to keep focussed. I don't have any plans yet for the rest of the season. Let's see what happens, but I hope to come back for some more rallies."
Rally Sweden proved a solid start to the season for Tuohino who came top of the S-WRC drivers registered for the entire season, the Finn finishing 1min 59sec in front of reigning J-WRC champion Martin Prokop - also driving a Fiesta S2000. After day one problems including a misting windscreen and a missing rear window in SS7, Tuohino put in consistently good times throughout the event, and took four stage wins.
“P-G ran away with the competition from day one," said Tuohino. "After that my focus was just to win stages and come in second. The car has been very strong but maybe we need a little more time to learn how to use it better. We lost too much time on Friday so since then it has really been focusing on developing our feeling with the car. In a few more events we will be very fast.”
Unable to compete with the Scandinavian drivers at the head of the field on a snow rally, Prokop was pleased to finish on the podium. The Czech Republic driver stepped up his pace throughout the rally, and on SS16 put his Fiesta on top of the overall stage results, beating all the WRC crews. Prokop eventually finished 1min 59sec behind Tuohino and a comfortable 1min 43sec in front of Patrik Sandell in fourth.
"I knew I couldn’t catch P-G and Janne, so I could relax and enjoy the event," said Prokop. "This rally has been nearly perfect, we have had no problems at all. We didn’t do anything special in terms of our driving so to get the stage win on Saturday was great. It was hard to fight with the others in front because they have a better understanding of these conditions. The rest of the year we will be more confident back on gravel and it is a big opportunity for us to do something really good.”