Rally Sweden: Series leg 2 midday report

Hirvonen leads at the midday halt in Sweden

Mikko Hirvonen has completed Saturday morning's loop of four stages as the new leader of Rally Sweden.

The Finn, in a works Ford Fiesta RS WRC, was 14.8s adrift of Mads Ostberg at the start of day two but gradually chipped away at the Norwegian's overnight advantage to the extent he is now 0.3s up on the M-Sport Stobart driver after posting a faster time on stage 11.

"We had some problems with the [low] sun at the start and it hasn't been easy this morning but there is still a long way to go," said Hirvonen. "I've really tried to push hard and some places are cleaning more than others. The car is really, really good so there is no need to change anything."

Ostberg said he was hamstrung running first on the road in the loose surface snow although he admitted the amount of time lost was not as great as he'd feared at the start of the day.

"It's been really tricky at times but I expected to lose more time," said the 23-year-old, who holds second overall.

Petter Solberg is third in his Citroen DS3 WRC after a strong morning in his privately-entered car, when he set the pace on two stages. He could have been closer to the leading drivers but received a 10-second penalty for a late arrival at the start of stage 10. Asked if he could win the event, Solberg said: "Everything is possible, we will keep pushing."

Jari-Matti Latvala holds fourth overall in the second factory Fiesta but admitted he wasn't happy with his driving. "I should be fighting with Petter so I am not satisfied," he said. "I need to improve."

Henning Solberg was fifth overnight but rolled out on Saturday's first stage having been delayed leaving service with a powersteering problem. Sebastien Ogier took full advantage of his error to move into fifth in his Citroen Total World Rally Team DS3 WRC.

World champion Sebastien Loeb is 1m33.6s behind Ogier after losing time during the morning when he hit a snow bank and suffered a right-rear puncture. Loeb had some reason for cheer when he went fastest on stage eight, the day's opening test.

PG Andersson has continued his recovery from the delays he suffered on Friday and went fastest on stage 10. He has now moved into seventh overall, one place ahead of countryman Patik Sandell, who continues to impress in his Super 2000-specifcation Skoda Fabia.

Kimi Raikkonen is ninth in his ICE 1 Racing Citroen DS3 WRC with Production Car World Rally Championship leader Anders Grondal completing the top 10, 3.7s ahead of Team Abu Dhabi Fiesta driver Khalid Al-Qassimi.

Matthew Wilson is a further 3.9s back in his M-Sport Stobart Fiesta after reporting making two big mistakes in the Fredriskberg stage. Otherwise the Briton has been in the top 10 on all other tests.

Dennis Kuipers is 14th, one place behind Czech Fiesta S2000 driver Martin Prokop. Ken Block is 15th overall after being delayed on stage 11 when he went off the road and lost two minutes in his Monster World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Crews are now in service in Hagfors with the first stage of the afternoon, Lesjofors, due to get underway at 13:26hrs local time.

-source: wrc

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Series WRC
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Jari-Matti Latvala , Mikko Hirvonen , Henning Solberg , Matthew Wilson , Ken Block , Khalid Al-Qassimi , Mads Ostberg , Anders Grondal , Dennis Kuipers
Teams Citroën World Rally Team , M-Sport