Thursday | 18 Feb 2016

Sweden Driver Report: Part 1

We look at how the leading drivers coped on Swedish snow in the first part of our summary.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: 26th

After a no-score in Rallye Monte-Carlo, Latvala [pictured above] went to Sweden needing to get points on the board. So to leave Sweden with his zero intact is about as bad as it could get. If there's one consolation, it's that this time it wasn't his fault. Volkswagen haven't had a similar driveshaft joint failure before, and there's no suggestion that this was anything other than rotten luck. Latvala's view is that now both he and the team have played their jokers, the real business can begin in Mexico. The worry is that Ogier rarely plays jokers at all.

Eric Camilli (Ford Fiesta RS)
Result: Retired

As the inexperienced half of M-Sport's driver line-up Camilli has a lot to learn this year. And it was another hard lesson in Sweden. Three weeks after he crashed and retired in Monte-Carlo, he checked-out early from Sweden in similar circumstances, helped by an over-optimistic pacenote. Again the state of his car prevented him from rejoining and understanding more about the conditions for future attempts. With just two rallies under his belt these are early days for Camilli, and there is no need to panic, but at the next round in Mexico we expect he'll want to see the third day.

Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)
Result: 2nd
Sweden was Paddon's first rally in Hyundai's new generation i20 and on this evidence it's a combination with enormous potential. Second was a career-best matching result for the Kiwi and was well deserved. He made the most of his road position advantage on Saturday's first pass stages, and cleverly didn't try to force his speed when conditions didn't allow - even when Ogier's lead looked tantalisingly close. Never one to rest on his laurels, Paddon left Sweden with a stack of data and onboard videos to pore over and the promise of more improvement to come.

Craig Breen (DS 3)
Result: 8th
Eighth was an impressive result for Breen on his debut in the DS 3 - or his PlayStation, as he referred to it. It's even better when you consider the pressure he was under to impress Citroën on what could be a very limited programme this year. But he kept that stress under control and struck just about the perfect balance between safety, to get the car to the finish in one piece, and pure speed. Third fastest time on stage seven was 1.3sec quicker than Ogier and left the  garrulous Irishman almost lost for words.

Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20)
Result: 6th
This was Sordo's second top-six result in a row but it could easily have been higher. The Spaniard ended Friday's stages right in the thick of the lead battle, one of five drivers covered by less than 40 seconds. But that all changed on Saturday's opener, when he ran over rocks near the end of Fredriksberg and punctured. The loss of more than a minute dropped him to sixth, with no realistic prospect of catching the car ahead. From that point on his mission was to keep Henning Solberg behind.

Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen Polo R)
Result: 4th
Fourth place on one of his favourite events is less than we were expecting from Mikkelsen. With stages in his native Norway this was one of the rounds where he should have challenged for victory. Instead, he had trouble hooking together clean stages. While he avoided any big dramas, by his own admission he made too many little mistakes which gradually dropped him out of the running. It was after the most serious of  these, a spin on Saturday's Rämmen, when he changed tack from lead attack to defence of fourth. Two points on the Power Stage was some consolation and keeps him second in the championship.

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