SS4 / SS5: Three out
of four for Ogier

Sébastien Ogier ended Friday morning at Rally Sweden with a 9.1sec lead after topping the timesheets in three of the four special stages.

Stage info: SS4 / SS5

SS4: Finnskogen 1, 20.76km
This first stage entirely in Norway is a tricky one, mixing tight hairpins with fast curvy roads through open pine woods. Some roads were used last year in the opposite direction, but much is new.

SS5: Kirkenær 1, 7.07km
This is a spectator favourite which winds along a thin strip of land between a river and a man-made bank. Huge crowds stand on top of the bank, taking advantage of perfect views over the stage below.

Having won SS2 and SS3, he conceded fastest time to Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in Finnskogen, before winning the Kirkenær test despite a startline glitch.

“I had a problem at the start because the gears didn’t engage and maybe I lost a second. It wasn’t a big drama. We have to take our chances now because there are maybe different times coming for us this afternoon,” said road opener Ogier.

It was a mixed pair of stages for Latvala. “SS4 was good but I’ve never driven the next one well, and now I realise why. I’m too careful turning into tight corners, maybe I’m not relaxed enough,” he said.

Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg continued their all-Norwegian duel for third. Mikkelsen held the edge over the DS 3 driver by 2.4sec despite struggling to turn his Polo R into corners.

Thierry Neuville is isolated in fifth, but the Belgian was frustrated with his times. He was 17.2sec clear of Kris Meeke, who slipped behind the Hyundai i20 after losing 30sec with a spin in Finnskogen.

“It was quite high speed,” said the Northern Irishman (pictured below). “I hit a snow bank and it dragged the front in, and spun us 360 degrees down the road. This is new for me and it’s all part of the learning curve.”

Seventh-placed Elfyn Evans admitted he was searching for the ‘sweet spot’ with his driving, while team-mate Ott Tänak was a place behind despite ‘driving as fast as I possibly can’. Robert Kubica and Martin Prokop completed the top 10.

Just outside the leaderboard was a frustrated Hayden Paddon. The Kiwi is effectively driving the injured Dani Sordo’s i20 with the Spaniard’s set-up due to key parts being linked to other rallies and said he had no confidence with the set-up.

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