Saturday | 14 Feb 2015

SS13/14: Mikkelsen slip allows Ogier in

Rally Sweden leader Andreas Mikkelsen handed away most of his advantage to team-mate Sébastien Ogier after dropping almost 20sec with a spin in Saturday morning’s Vargåsen special stage.

Stage info: SS13 / 14

SS13: Hagfors Sprint 1, 1.87km
The shortest stage of the weekend is at a former rallycross circuit on the edge of Hagfors. It is twisty and technical and offers great spectating. With little room to throw the car around, it rewards tidy driving.

SS14: Vargåsen 1, 24.63km
A classic Sweden test and one of the fastest of the rally, Vargåsen is famous for Colin’s Crest – a blind jump 12.8km from the start. Ken Block and Marius Aasen hold the record for the longest leap at 37 metres and the biggest jumper will receive the Colin’s Crest Award. The stage starts on a narrow and twisty road but becomes wider and more flowing.

The Norwegian’s 20.8sec lead was slashed to just 1.7sec as Ogier continued his recovery from his own off-the-road incident yesterday afternoon.

“I touched the bank a little with the rear of the car and it spun,” said Mikkelsen, who admitted he was feeling the pressure of fighting for a maiden WRC win in his Volkswagen Polo R.

“I had to turn around but it took a long time because the road was so narrow. It will be an interesting afternoon now but we’ll give it everything. This is a new situation for me but we’ll do the job as well as we can. It will be tough but we won’t give up,” he added.

There was plenty of loose snow in the test, famed for the Colin’s Crest jump, and Ogier opened the road for the final section after first in the start order Lorenzo Bertelli went off.

“Everything was fine but the stage wasn’t for me. Conditions were quite slippery but I pushed as much as I could,” said Ogier, who, despite his misgivings, was fastest.

Thierry Neuville (pictured below) was just 0.3sec behind Ogier in a Hyundai i20 and trails him by 10.7sec overall in third, with Mads Østberg a further 38.8sec behind in fourth in Citroen’s DS 3.

Ott Tänak is fifth in his Ford Fiesta RS with Hayden Paddon sixth, the Kiwi making changes to his Hyundai i20 to find a better feeling. Martin Prokop is seventh with Elfyn Evans and Kris Meeke, third in Vårgasen, recovering from yesterday’s offs in eighth and ninth.

Yuriy Protasov is 10th, despite dropping almost 30sec in the previous Hagfors Sprint stage in his Fiesta RS. “A lot of slide and after it wasn’t possible to turn. We went a little bit off the road,” he said.

Jari-Matti Latvala’s troubled weekend continued when the Finn lost a further 45sec after spinning into a snow bank.

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