Conditions were cold and bright for the Swedish Rally qualifying session, with light snowfall and a temperature of -5C.
Sebastien Ogier continued Volkswagen's promising start to its debut WRC season by setting fastest time on this morning's Rally Sweden Qualifying Stage.
The Frenchman completed the 3.99km snow test in 1m51.357s in his Polo R WRC, 0.900 seconds quicker than Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Mads Ostberg.
The result means that Ogier will be able to choose where he wants to start Friday’s first full day of the rally in order to make the best possible use of road position.
“I couldn’t expect any better, so I’m happy with that for sure,” Ogier told wrc.com. “It’s a good start and in these conditions it means a lot to have first choice of starting position.”
Ogier will make his selection this evening at the opening Super Special in Karlstad. Ogier remained tight-lipped about his choice but confirmed it would be some way down the order. “There was quite a lot of [road] cleaning, the times were getting quicker and quicker and we expect the same for tomorrow. I’m not saying where I’d like to be, but let’s just say I will not be first on the road…”
Norwegian Ostberg was also thinking tactics. “I wanted to do a good qualifying but I didn’t want to win either, so second was the best position I could have.
“I think selecting the starting position in conditions like this is difficult. I know which place I would have wanted, but it depends a lot on what the other drivers do as well so I don’t have everyone behind me. It’s difficult with the splits if it’s like that, so I need to consider everything. To some point I will follow Ogier. It depends on what he does,” he said.
Third was Mikko Hirvonen, his Citroen DS3 WRC 1.564sec behind Ogier. “I’m quite happy, maybe a bit surprised how fast Ogier was, but it’s OK and we can still choose a good road position,” said the Finn.
Conditions were cold and bright for the session, with light snowfall and a temperature of -5C. The cars started in championship order, meaning Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb went first. The nine-time world champion was eighth.
Jarkko Nikara got his rally off to a scary start, spinning his MINI John Cooper Works in sixth gear near the end of the second practice run. The Finn was lucky to escape the high speed off with just a broken rear wheel and light front suspension damage.