Karl Kruuda staged a remarkable recovery to claim a last-gasp win in the WRC 2 category at Rally Sweden today after the victory battle was turned on its head in the final kilometres.
First leg transmission problems on his Ford Fiesta S2000 and a spin looked to have ended his chances. But he never put a foot wrong in the final two days and overhauled long-time leader Yazeed Al Rajhi and Jari Ketomaa to win by 2.3sec.
“After the first day I didn’t think that I could win at all because of the transmission trouble. I just thought that everything was lost, but I didn’t give up,” said an emotional Kruuda as he celebrated his first win.
Having built a 90sec lead over Ketomaa, Saudi Arabian Al Rajhi spun into the snow three stages from the end, handing the Finn a 1.1sec advantage. In his eagerness to reclaim top spot, Al Rajhi rolled his Fiesta RRC in the penultimate stage and eventually finished fourth.
Ketomaa started today 48sec clear of Kruuda but the Estonian ate into his advantage and started the final stage 18.7sec adrift. The tyres on Ketomaa’s Fiesta R5 were badly worn and he limped through the final icy downhill section, allowing Kruuda to grab an unlikely win.
“In the last downhill I had no studs in my tyres and it was very, very tricky. I didn’t think I could stay in the lead because I needed to come so, so slowly,” explained Ketomaa.
Third went to Fredrik Ahlin, the Swede 44.5sec behind Ketomaa in a Fiesta R5 after overcoming engine problems. “We are so, so, happy to be here on the podium on our home event. It’s our first time in an R5 car and we stuck to a plan. We had some problems but we kept our heads cool,” he said.
Yurii Protasov was fifth despite crashing into a tree and later damaging his car’s suspension. Valeriy Gorban, Lorenzo Bertelli and Gianluca Linari completed the finishers.
Anders Grondal retired his Subaru Impreza with engine problems while Jourdan Serderidis stopped with similar troubles on his Fiesta R5 before the penultimate stage.