SS2 / SS3: Ogier
sets pace in Sweden

After the debate about thawing snow and the best position in the start order, Sébastien Ogier gave an early indication that opening the road wasn’t a bad place to be by winning Friday’s opening two stages at Rally Sweden.

Stage info: SS2 / SS3

SS2: Torsby 1, 14.76km
Same name, but a very different stage to the 2014 version as the opening 11.70km are new. It starts with several tight corners before a long straight leads onto a wide road. It narrows as cars turn into a quarry, with flowing ‘rallycross-style’ curves and a jump before the finish at Torsby Ski Tunnel.

SS3: Röjden 1, 18.73km
A classic stage run many times in national rallies, it was last used in this event in 2011, but in the opposite direction. It starts in Sweden, before crossing into Norway and ending back in Sweden. The stage offers a mix of fast and slower roads, with an exceptionally tricky jump just ahead of a square right corner.

The championship leader topped the times through Torsby by 2.7sec in his Volkswagen Polo R from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. He then outpaced Andreas Mikkelsen by 2.2sec in Röjden to open a 7.8sec lead.

“It’s really nice, conditions are beautiful. There is good ice on the road and it’s fast and narrow. On this one running first was quite OK,” said the Frenchman at the finish of SS3.

Latvala was only fifth in Röjden, the Finn non-plussed with his performance. “Not good. I thought I had a good run but it seems we’re losing time. In SS2 I struggled in the junctions. The car wasn’t turning in and I couldn’t find the braking points,” he said.

Mikkelsen was third overall, despite dropping a few seconds after clipping a hay bale in a Torsby chicane. Consistent performances in both tests put Mads Østberg fourth in Citroen’s DS 3, just 1.3sec behind his fellow Norwegian and 1.9sec ahead of team-mate Kris Meeke.

There were plenty of early incidents. Ott Tänak lost 10sec after burying his Ford Fiesta RS in a snow bank near the finish of SS2, while debutant Kevin Abbring lost 1min 30sec in his Hyundai i20 when he missed a corner after his glasses steamed up.

Lorenzo Bertelli dropped nearly two minutes in SS3 after driveshaft issues left his Fiesta RS in front-wheel drive only, while Robert Kubica, Hayden Paddon and Michal Solowow all overshot a junction and had to reverse back onto the road.

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