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Sweden WRC: Tanak on brink of win, Mikkelsen drops back

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Sweden WRC: Tanak on brink of win, Mikkelsen drops back
By:
Feb 17, 2019, 9:56 AM

Toyota's Ott Tanak holds a comfortable Rally Sweden lead with one stage remaining, while Andrea Mikkelsen plummeted from second to fourth on a terrible final morning.

Almost 50 seconds behind runaway rally leader Tanak, a three-way battle over second place continued to play out, with Mikkelsen and Esapekka Lappi heading to the first Likenas test tied for time overall.

But a poor run to the 10th fastest time on the first of two passes demoted Mikkelsen from equal second to fourth, also falling behind his Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville, who now holds third.

Lappi was fastest of the sparring trio on both runs through Likenas, boosting his advantage over Neuville to 4.4s overall.

Mikkelsen, complaining that his car was not “reactive” enough to match the pace of Lappi and his own team-mate, is now 4.2s off Neuville and falling towards Elfyn Evans in fifth place.

Evans was fastest through the second running of Likenas, reducing the gap between himself and Mikkelsen to 6.4s with only the Torsby finale to go.

Toyota’s Kris Meeke had been under pressure from Sebastien Loeb for sixth place on Saturday afternoon but extended his gap, going 7.6s quicker than the Hyundai driver across both runs of Likenas to boost his overall advantage to 9.2s.

Behind Loeb in seventh, Pontus Tidemand (M-Sport Ford) is over a minute and a half behind in eighth, though is well clear of ninth-placed WRC2 leader Ole Christian Veiby (Volkswagen).

Ford privateer Janne Tuohino entered the top 10 overall for the first time this weekend, going four seconds clear of WRC2 Pro leader Mads Ostberg (Citroen).

Friday retiree Jari-Matti Latvala, running as third car on the road, set the fastest time on the first run though Likenas, 0.2s ahead of Sebastien Ogier who started one place earlier in the running order.

Ogier deliberately drove at a slow pace through his next run on Likenas, saving his tyres for an attempt at maximum points on the rally-ending Torsby Power Stage.

Teemu Suninen also returned to action after hitting a tree on Saturday, damaging the rollcage on his Ford Fiesta.

Top 10 after SS18:

Pos. # Driver/Co-driver Car Time/Gap
1 8

Estonia Ott Tanak 
Estonia Martin Jarveoja 

Toyota 2h42m14.9s
2 4 Finland Esapekka Lappi 
Finland Janne Ferm 
Citroen +48.8s
3 11

Belgium Thierry Neuville 
Belgium Nicolas Gilsoul 

Hyundai +53.2s
4 89

Norway Andreas Mikkelsen 
Norway Anders Jaeger 

Hyundai +57.4s
5 33

United Kingdom Elfyn Evans 
United Kingdom Scott Martin

Ford +1m03.8s
6 5 United Kingdom Kris Meeke 
United Kingdom Sebastian Marshall 
Toyota +1m33.6s
7 11 France Sébastien Loeb 
Monaco Daniel Elena 
Hyundai  +1m42.8s
8 7 Sweden Pontus Tidemand 
Norway Ola Floene 
Ford +3m24.8s
9 21

Norway Ole Christian Veiby 

Sweden Jonas Andersson 

Volkswagen +6m02.5s
10 92

Finland Janne Tuohino 

Finland Mikko Markkula 

Ford +8m00.5s
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About this article

Series WRC
Event Rally Sweden
Drivers Ott Tanak
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Alasdair Lindsay