Kristensson, who was runner-up in the 2019 championship and topped the category in Sweden 12 months ago, won two of the four opening leg speed tests in his Ford Fiesta R2. He finished second in the other two to take a firm grip at the front.
“It’s amazing to be in the lead. Our tyre strategy has worked and everything just feels perfect,” he said on his return to the Torsby service park.
Mārtiņš Sesks and Lauri Joona tussled over second. They twice traded places as Latvian Sesks won the Nyckelvattnet test to pull clear, ending with a 10.1sec advantage.
Estonia’s Ken Torn was fourth ahead of Sami Pajari, with Raul Badiu rounding off the top six. Romanian Badiu claimed the first fastest time of his career through the final fan-favourite Torsby Sprint test.
Swedish junior champion Pontus Lönnström dropped three minutes early in the opening stage with a puncture, ending 12th.
The fast forest roads took their toll on Jon Armstrong and Fabio Andolfi. Ulsterman Armstrong rolled heavily this morning before Andolfi did the same in the final stage. Armstrong’s Fiesta was too badly damaged to be repaired and he will not restart tomorrow.