World Champion, Petter Solberg maintained his overnight third position to record his best ever result in Sweden and collect six WRC Drivers' and six Manufacturers' points. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was ninth, and secured two WRC Manufacturers'...
World Champion, Petter Solberg maintained his overnight third position to record his best ever result in Sweden and collect six WRC Drivers' and six Manufacturers' points. His team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was ninth, and secured two WRC Manufacturers' points. Despite both losing time with incidents on Leg two, the Subaru duo delivered a string of impressive times and demonstrated the competitiveness of the Impreza in some demanding wintry conditions.
SS14: 0804 Sågen 1 (14.17km)
Despite frequent snow flurries, the Leg's opening stages had
been graded by a snowplough, which left a road surface of predominantly
hard packed ice. As dawn broke, Citroen's Carlos Sainz was fastest,
enough to move him up to fourth overall, while Janne Tuohino was second
and Markko Martin third. Subaru's Petter Solberg, running on ice tyres,
was fourth quickest, despite reporting that his pace notes had been a
little too cautious. His Subaru team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, who had opted
to run on snow tyres, was eighth. Not a good start for Marcus Gronholm.
Spinning his 307 near the start, the Finn dropped 36 seconds, which
reduced the gap between himself and third-placed Solberg to 15.2
seconds. Once the stage was complete, crews moved directly to the start
Fastest Time: Sainz (Citroen) 7:29.0
SS15: 0854 Rämmen 1 (23.35km)
As heavy snow fell on the first pass through the 23.35km Rammen
test, Tuohino was fastest to take his first stage win of the event. The
Finn's charge through the test's long corners and tricky uphill section
was enough to snatch back overall fourth from Carlos Sainz, who was
fourth quickest. At the finish, Tuohino held a slender 1.6-second
advantage over Sainz with 59.08km left to run. Gronholm was 0.6 seconds
off the winning pace to finish second, while Solberg was a further 0.2
seconds back for third. Sebastien Loeb was sixth fastest and ended the
stage with a 1 minute 7.5 second cushion at the top of the leaderboard.
After the finish, crews stopped for a refuel, before moving to the start
Fastest Time: Tuohino (Ford) 12:08.6
SS16: 1006 Hara 1 (10.78km)
On a charge to make up lost time, Gronholm blasted through the
snow and ice covered 10.78km Hara test to take another stage win, his
sixth of the event. Yet with more than a minute remaining between
himself and overall leader Sebastien Loeb at the finish, he remained
second overall. In the intense battle for fourth, Sainz was second
quickest and closed the gap on Tuohino's overall fourth spot to just 0.2
seconds. Driving over the finish line, located strangely enough in a
town called Solberg, Petter was third quickest. With leading crews
recording average speeds in excess of 100kph in heavy snowfall, the
narrow test demanded the utmost in precision driving. There were no
major incidents and after the finish, crews returned to Hagfors for the
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 6:03.6
SS17: 1218 Sågen 2 (14.17km)
As the tension mounted in the event's closing stages, Sainz and
Tuohino were neck and neck in the battle for overall fourth and charged
through the icy stage to set exactly the same fastest time. As a result,
Tuohino remained 0.2 seconds ahead of the Spaniard - the slimmest of
margins considering that 360.67km of competitive driving had been
completed by that stage. Markko Martin was third fastest and Gronholm
was fourth. Using yellow-tinted sunglasses to give a clearer view of the
white landscape, Mikko Hirvonen posted the seventh fastest time, while
team-mate Solberg was sixth. After the finish, crews moved directly to
the start of SS18.
Fastest Time: Sainz (Citroen) and Tuohino (Ford) 7:28.9
SS18: 1308 Rämmen 2 (23.35km)
There was anguish for Citroen's Carlos Sainz on the penultimate
test of the event. At 23km, the repeated Rammen test would have provided
the best opportunity for the Spaniard to catch Tuohino, but disaster
struck when an engine problem left his Citroen running on three
cylinders. Struggling to maintain a competitive pace, the Spaniard lost
19.6 seconds and with it, any likely chance of taking overall fourth.
Looking to the leaders, Gronholm was fastest, with Loeb maintaining his
pace for second, and Subaru's Solberg third. Ford's Francois Duval
suffered a spin and dropped over three minutes, but having started the
stage in 47th place following yesterday's problems, it made no change to
the overall top ten. After the finish, crews stopped for a refuel before
moving to the start of the final test.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 12:05.4
SS19: 1420 Hara 2 (10.78km)
Sebastien Loeb completed the repeated test to take his second
WRC victory in as many events and become the first non-Scandinavian to
win the Swedish Rally in its 54-year history. Gronholm was fastest
through the final 10km, but had to settle for overall second, while
Solberg was fourth fastest to take the final podium position. Nursing
his ailing Citroen to the finish, Carlos Sainz dropped a further 30
seconds and had to settle for overall fifth. This left the way clear for
Tuohino to take fourth, and with it the five Drivers' points available.
After the stage the Ford Team withdrew Francois Duval at the final
service, commenting that they were confident he had gained sufficient
experience of the specialist event. He had been in 45th position.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 6:05.3
It's been incredible, I'm very, very happy. It's been a real adventure to drive over the past few days, very hard work and our luck has been up and down, but third is a good result. There's much more speed now and I'd say that my performance on snow has increased 100 per cent. I have to admit that before this event I was a little worried by my previous record here in Sweden, but I enjoyed this event and to have some points early in the year is good news.
I'm very happy, my speed has been good and the car has been perfect. I lost a few places yesterday with a spin and without that it would be a very different result. But, I'm learning more about the car with every kilometre and I've got some points for the team, which is great.
David Lapworth - Team Principal, David Lapworth
The most important thing is that we've achieved our objective of getting Petter onto the podium. Perhaps it's not been quite as straightforward as planned, but the result and our competitiveness here have been pleasing. We've been able to set good times in a wide variety of conditions. Mikko too should be very happy with the way he's performed. He was unlucky to lose so much time after such a minor incident - especially when you consider the number of spins that the leading drivers have had. He's shown a good pace, and I'm sure has learned a lot.
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager:
For the final Leg of the Swedish Rally, Petter selected the Pirelli PZero J1 ice tyre for the first set of stages and for the remainder of the day, the PZero W1 snow tyre. Mikko used the PZero W1 snow tyre for all of today's stages. Petter has defended his podium position well and Mikko gained valuable experience of both the type of conditions Sweden offers and the tyres used. We look forward to Mexico in a few weeks time.