12 Feb 10
Swedish driver P-G Andersson has ended day one of Rally Sweden with a clean sweep: eight out of eight stage wins. Having dominated the rally to this point, he enters day two confident of replicating his success.
Feeling perfectly at home on today's stages, Andersson is hoping to find broadly the same balance of risk and aggression in his Skoda Fabia S2000 on Saturday. “It’s difficult to know what speed to drive at. I think I was maybe too careful to start with. I’m quite familiar with the stages tomorrow as well so I will approach them in the same way that I did those today. Maybe I’ll be a little more careful to try and save my tyres, but otherwise I will drive hard.”
Behind Andersson lie Ford Fiesta S2000 drivers Janne Tuohino and Martin Prokop. Tuohino ended the day 59.2sec adrift after a steady day in his new car. Apart from losing a rear window in SS6 it's been a trouble-free fun for the Finn. Reigning J-WRC champion Martin Prokop is third overnight, 25.9sec behind Tuohino and hungry to close the gap on Saturday. He too had a largely incident free day, with the exception of missing rear window of his own.
Despite driving the same Skoda machinery as P-G Andersson, fellow Swede Patrik Sandell hit one problem after another this afternoon, unable to better his fourth position in P-WRC from earlier in the day. SS5 seemed to be going well, until he overshot a junction and couldn’t reverse. Waiting for spectators to help him cost him nearly 30 seconds, and this was only the beginning of his troubles. In SS6 he caught Gronholm and had to sit behind him, losing 10 more seconds and in the next stage he also lost the studs on his tyres. SS8 didn’t prove the turning point he hoped for as he came fifth of seven S-WRC entries. At the end of day 1, Sandell’s confidence is knocked.
Bernardo Sousa sits in fifth, one place behind Sandell but happy with his performance in the snow - not a condition he favours. After hitting a snow bank in SS6, he nearly lost his light pod and on SS7 when he needed lights, he didn’t have any: “I was pushing and couldn’t see, so I entered a left-hand corner too fast. My wheels ended up in the snow and I lost 10 seconds. That may not seem a lot, but 10 seconds can win or lose you a rally.” Nonetheless, he was happy with the day as a whole and aims to duplicate it tomorrow, “I want to find the same rhythm, and will approach the rally with the same philosophy.”