Sunday | 15 Feb 2015

SS19: First blood to Mikkelsen

Andreas Mikkelsen regained the lead of Rally Sweden in the opening special stage of Sunday’s final leg after intercom problems delayed Thierry Neuville.

Stage info: SS19

Lesjöfors, 15.00km
Lesjöfors is familiar to most as the route has not changed for several years. It starts on a narrow, twisty section through woodland, then opens out near the midpoint and gets faster. It flicks back and forth between open and twisty all the way.

He moved ahead by 3.8sec in his Volkswagen Polo R, although fastest time went to team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who is now only 6.8sec off the lead.

Second-fastest Mikkelsen admitted to a minor mistake. “I was a bit too wide in the fast section. I was OK at the beginning but I was too careful in places after that. The stage was in great condition and maybe I didn’t take advantage of that. We have to fight like crazy and see what we can do in the next two stages,” he said.

Neuville’s intercom issues began just 500 metres after the start. “I had a lot of interference in the intercom and it was disturbing. Nicolas (co-driver Gilsoul) couldn’t hear me and I hit a snow bank,” said the Belgian.

Ogier was content with his performance. “It was a bit tricky and there were a lot of snow banks missing from the other drivers. It wasn’t a bad stage. I slowed down because Mads’ Østberg car was in the road and I hope the others slowed down like me,” he said.

Østberg lost more than five minutes after burying Citroen’s DS 3 into the snow midway through. The Norwegian said his car’s handbrake didn’t work. “I tried to use it but it locked all four wheels and put us off,” he said.

Robert Kubica restarted with a five-minute penalty after stewards found the engine in his Ford Fiesta RS exceeded the maximum permitted turbo boost. His team said it could not control the boost level as the mapping was supplied by engine supplier M-Sport, to whom it had reported the issue twice.

More News