SS9/10: Tänak regains lead
Ott Tänak moved back into the lead of Rally Sweden on Saturday morning as a mistake from overnight leader Teemu Suninen sent him plunging down the leaderboard.
Stage info: SS9/10
SS9: Rämmen 1, 23.13km
The only new stage for 2019, although Rämmen is by no means new to the rally. It was last driven in 2016, but in the opposite direction, and drivers don’t spend too much time on the brakes in here. After a flowing start, the test develops into a series of long high-speed sections, broken up by narrower and twistier roads around a series of lakes.
SS10: Hagfors 1, 23.40km
A well-known stage with a spectacular finale. After negotiating a series of fast, flowing corners, competitors burst into view in front of thousands of fans on the Värmullsåsen ski slope. A set of tight downhill hairpin bends leads into a big jump before the finish at the bottom of the hill on the edge of Hagfors. The test underwent changes last year and is driven in the same format this time round.
Tänak regained top spot with second fastest time in the opening Rämmen speed test. His advantage became much more comfortable when Suninen conceded almost 90sec and all hopes of a maiden WRC victory less than 1km from the end of the following Hagfors stage.
The Ford Fiesta driver was too fast into a right corner and slid wide on the next left bend. “The snow sucked us into a snowbank and we got stuck and lost time. Too much speed and quite a lot of loose snow,” explained the disappointed Finn, who dropped to eighth.
Tänak, who was also second quickest through Hagfors, emerged with a 34.2sec lead in his Toyota Yaris. “We had a clean run in both stages. The first one was new so it would have been stupid to take any risks there. I’m in a good rhythm at the moment,” he said.
A cautious Andreas Mikkelsen climbed to second in his Hyundai i20. The Norwegian was seventh in both tests and was almost 15sec clear of Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta.
The battle for fourth raged between Esapekka Lappi, Thierry Neuville and Kris Meeke. Lappi was the man in control after Hagfors, despite admitting he was not brave enough at the wheel of his Citroën C3 in the high-speed sections.
He had 4.3sec in hand over Thierry Neuville, who struggled with his i20’s handling, with Meeke a further 1.7sec back. Sébastien Loeb slipped away from the scrap in seventh, the Frenchman complaining his pace notes were too slow for the fast and icy Swedish forest roads.
Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier, both restarting today after retiring yesterday, claimed a stage win each.
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