Volkswagen steamroller gets brushed aside on Day Two, as Hyundai’s star blindsides aces Mikkelsen and Ogier.
Belgium’s Thierry Neuville will go into the final day of Rally Sweden with a 1.5s advantage for Hyundai over Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen following another incident-packed loop of stages on Saturday afternoon.
Neuville put in a storming performance to win the final stage of the day, Vargasen, by 5.9s over VW’s world champion Sebastien Ogier, and his 8.8s advantage over longtime front man Mikkelsen was enough to grasp the overall lead.
"I had a big, big, push,” smiled Neuville. “I think that's one of the best stages I have ever done. I have a good feeling in the car. So much fun.
“It will be hard tomorrow but I'm not going to slow down now. Can I win? Yes."
Volkswagen duo vow to fight back
Mikkelsen led for almost all of Day Two until the very final stage. Despite some errors in the morning, he looked set to hold on until Neuville’s last-gasp charge.
"It looks like Neuville has a different tyre strategy, with fresh ones at the front,” said Mikkelsen. “It looks like it's going to be interesting tomorrow.”
Ogier, who struggled with running first on the road of the leading runners, added of the final stage: “The conditions were terrible, but I have done all I can. I wouldn't want to push like that all the time."
Don't rule Ogier out
Ogier will start the final day 9.6s off the lead. Citroen’s Mads Ostberg is the final leading runner in touch in fourth place, but is 43.8s off the pace after struggling with a puncture early on after swiping a bank, and gearbox problems late on.
The third VW of Jari-Matti Latvala is now over nine minutes off the pace after a disastrous event.