The first full day of Rally Sweden proved to be tougher than expected for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. The team began the morning well with a stage win but was disadvantaged by the conditions on the snow-covered roads, which considerably favoured the drivers running further down the starting order.
Following fresh snowfall, Ott Tänak’s confidence behind the wheel of the Toyota Yaris WRC was clear to see as he won the opening stage of the day, increasing the rally lead that he had established last night. On the subsequent stages however, both Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala suffered from running second and third on the road: a result of their excellent podium finishes on Rallye Monte-Carlo. This forced them to sweep loose snow from the surface and created quicker conditions for the drivers behind.
Running further down the order, Esapekka Lappi was able to set some strong stage times and climb from eighth to second position over the day’s first four stages. On stage six, he ran wide at a junction and collected a large amount of snow in his car’s air filter, reducing the amount of power available. He lost half a minute and ended the day in seventh position, one place in front of Latvala and two places in front of Tänak.
Tommi Mäkinen (Team Principal)
“I don’t think I have ever seen a first full day to a rally quite like this. You can just see from the stage times here who did well in Monte Carlo and who didn’t. The road cleaning is having an even bigger effect now that everybody is using wider snow tyres than in the past. It must be very frustrating for the drivers who are leading the championship at the moment, including Ott and Jari-Matti. Esapekka made a little mistake which is unfortunate, as he could have been in a good position tomorrow fighting for the lead, but he has shown good speed and confidence in these conditions. With the running order being reversed tomorrow it will give an even bigger advantage to those who started further down today, but there are still two more days to go and we will see what happens.”
Jari-Matti Latvala (Driver car 7)
“It has been a really demanding day. Firstly, we had the fresh snow this morning and then on the second pass through the stages we had to follow the narrower lines of the historic cars and it was extremely slippery outside of those lines. I could not really push any more than I did, but that’s the way it is. I have been quite happy with the car and tomorrow will hopefully be a more positive situation for us.”
Ott Tänak (Driver car 8)
“Today has been really tough. There were some extremely difficult conditions, with a lot of snow. It looks nice from the outside but on the road it’s quite a struggle and it is difficult to find any grip. It would be nice if we could be last on the road tomorrow but unfortunately the road position will be the same as today, so it will be a similarly hard job. I think in the end we need to survive and to collect as many points as possible. Let’s do the best we can.”
Esapekka Lappi (Driver car 9)
“The conditions were quite tricky. The second loop was even tougher than the first: it was very easy to make a mistake because the ruts were very deep and there was a lot of loose snow. I kissed a snow bank with the front of the car and got too much snow in the air filter, so I was lacking power in the last five kilometres and we lost half a minute. We are still in the game with two days to go though, and I think that there were also many positives today. I was a bit surprised with how good my speed was, so I just need to take that feeling with me for tomorrow and enjoy it.”
End of Day two (Friday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 1h16m13.1s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4.9s
3 Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +12.1s
4 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Citroen C3 WRC) +12.6s
5 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroen C3 WRC) +13.2s
6 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) +29.6s
7 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) +38.5s
8 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m06.2s
9 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1m29.0s
10 Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (Citroen C3 WRC) +1m43.6s
(Results as of 18:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Tomorrow’s schedule features eight stages, beginning in the morning with a loop of three tests. Among these is the Vargasen stage which features Colin’s Crest, a famous jump named in honour of 1995 World Rally Champion Colin McRae with an award given for the furthest leap. The three stages are repeated after mid-day service, before a second visit to the super special stage in Karlstad and the Torsby Sprint test next to the service park.
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