With no snow on this stage, it was tricky going for the FIA World Rally Championship crews on Rally Sweden’s SS4. Changeable grip levels made for nervous and cautious driving from even the bravest crews, but for two crews concentrating on their own driving.
This played favourably into the hands of Toyota Gazoo Racing as they tackled SS4, Nyckelvattnet 1, was 18.94km of twists and turns over dry gravel. For the first time this event, this team set the fastest three stage times with Welshman Elfyn Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin taking their second scratch time so far in Rally Sweden. They outpaced SS3 stage winners Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) by 8.5 seconds to stamp their speed on this tricky rally early on.
Team-mates Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen set the second fastest stage time, just 2.6 seconds slower than Evans but an impressive 5.6 seconds quicker than their much experienced team-mates Sebastien Ogier/Julian Ingrassia who hold station in fourth place overall. This also meant that Rovanperä slid past second place overall Tänak, demoting the reigning WRC to third place overall.
Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm were flat-out in SS4 to set the fourth fastest stage time. He said: After the first three corners I was on the limit all the time.”
Road-sweeping duties are costing Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) dearly. They lost another 10 seconds to the leaders through this stage, and hold sixth position overall and some 22 seconds behind. The Belgian driver commented: “It’s pretty difficult – we have no snow and no line.”
Toyota Yaris WRC privateers Jari-Matti Latvala/Juno Hänninen are struggling with their car’s ECU. Said Latvala at the end of SS4: “We have a technical problem and the engine is cutting all the time – I don’t know what it is. I have to keep rebooting it and starting again. We will try to get to service but our rally is done – we’ve lost too much time.”
There is one more stage to run for today, the 2.08km-long Torsby Sprint 1.
Top Ten after SS4:
01) E. Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC) – 29m 01.1s
02) K. Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC) +7.9s
03) O. Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +8.7s
04) S. Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC) +16.4s
05) E. Lappi (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +20.2s
06) T. Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +22.0s
07) C. Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +23.8s
08) T. Suninen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +30.1s
09) T. Katsuta (Toyota Yaris WRC) +45.1
10) E. Lindholm/M. Korhonen (Skoda Fabia R5 Evo) +01m 40.9s