Sweden WRC: Tanak leads, Gronholm drops out

Toyota driver Ott Tanak scored two stage wins on the World Rally Championship’s opening morning of Rally Sweden, establishing a 5.5s lead over a tight battle for second place.

Sweden WRC: Tanak leads, Gronholm drops out

Running third on the road, Tanak took wins on Hof-Finnskog and Rojden, with second-placed Teemu Suninen breaking his streak with fastest time on Svullrya, the longest stage of the rally.

M-Sport’s Suninen is locked in an extremely close battle for position with Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala and Hyundai's Thierry Neuville, who had been the overnight leader after Thursday’s Karlstad superspecial.

Climbing from fifth place, Latvala picked off Neuville and Sebastien Ogier to finish the Friday morning loop in third, a mere 0.1s off Suninen. Neuville has now dropped to fourth, albeit only 0.4s off Latvala and still within touching distance of Tanak, with only 6s in arrears to the leader.

Reigning world champion Sebastien Ogier was surprised with the amount of grip available given concerns over warm temperatures affecting road conditions, though appeared to struggle with running as first car on the road regardless.

Though the Citroen team leader made a reasonable start in Hof-Finnskog, he would manage only the seventh and eighth fastest times in the third and fourth stages respectively, dropping to fifth, 14.4s off the lead.

Ogier is now falling into the clutches of teammate Esapekka Lappi, who ended the loop 0.4s behind him in sixth. Andreas Mikkelsen is a further 2.5s behind in the second Hyundai.

The third Toyota of Kris Meeke is eighth, with gaps already forming to both Mikkelsen ahead and Sebastien Loeb behind. Ninth-placed Loeb, contesting his second rally for Hyundai, is locked in a battle with Elfyn Evans, who dropped time when clipping a snowbank on Hof-Finnskog sent him into a spin. The pair are now separated by only 1.6s.

M-Sport’s third car struggled throughout Friday morning, with Pontus Tidemand’s wipers failing on Hof-Finnskog. He dropped upwards of 15s per stage relative to the leaders, ending the morning loop 11th and over a minute behind rally leader Tanak.

Five-time Rally Sweden winner Marcus Gronholm’s return to the WRC ended early, as he ploughed through a snowbank and and into the forest on Rojden. Both he and co-driver Timo Rautiainen were unharmed, though their privateer Toyota Yaris was stuck and they went no further.

It had been a tricky reintroduction to the world rally arena for Gronholm, who had also clipped snowbanks and spun in the previous two stages before his retirement.

Factory Citroen entrant Mads Ostberg leads WRC2 Pro, inheriting the position after Skoda’s Kalle Rovanpera clipped a snowbank, spun and became stuck, losing over two minutes.

Top 10 after SS4:

Pos. # Driver/Co-driver Car Time Gap
1 8 Estonia Ott Tanak 
Estonia Martin Jarveoja 
Toyota 33'16.5  
2 3 Finland Teemu Suninen 
Finland Marko Salminen 
Ford  33'22.0 5.5
3 10 Finland Jari-Matti Latvala 
Finland Miikka Anttila 
Toyota  33'22.1 5.6
4 11 Belgium Thierry Neuville 
Belgium Nicolas Gilsoul 
Hyundai  33'22.5 6.0
5 1 France Sébastien Ogier 
France Julien Ingrassia 
Citroen 33'30.9 14.4
6 4 Finland Esapekka Lappi 
Finland Janne Ferm 
Citroen 33'31.3 14.8
7 89 Norway Andreas Mikkelsen 
Norway Anders Jaeger 
Hyundai  33'33.8 17.3
8 5 United Kingdom Kris Meeke 
United Kingdom Sebastian Marshall 
Toyota  33'46.3 29.8
9 19 France Sébastien Loeb 
Monaco Daniel Elena 
Hyundai 34'00.0 43.5
10 33 United Kingdom Elfyn Evans 
United Kingdom Scott Martin 
Ford 34'01.6 45.1
shares
comments
Sweden WRC: Neuville fastest on opening superspecial

Previous article

Sweden WRC: Neuville fastest on opening superspecial

Next article

Sweden WRC: Suninen goes top, trouble for Latvala, Ogier

Sweden WRC: Suninen goes top, trouble for Latvala, Ogier
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Prime

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium Prime

Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Prime

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Prime

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021