OTT TÄNAK WON TWO OF FRIDAY MORNING’S THREE WINTER ROAD SPEED TESTS AT RALLY SWEDEN TO LEAD THE SECOND ROUND OF THE FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP IN A TOYOTA YARIS.He made the most of perfect snow and ice-covered roads across the border in Norway to follow fastest time in the opening Hof-Finnskog special stage with another in the 18.10km Röjden to lead by 5.5sec.
“Conditions are really good so I have to take the best out of it. Some of the nicest Sweden conditions for now but I expect the second loop will be completely different. Let’s see what we can do,” said the Estonian.
Leading the pursuit was Teemu Suninen, the Finn fastest in the middle Svullrya test in a Ford Fiesta. “I have a good feeling – which can be dangerous!” he joked. “I just need to continue like this and avoid mistakes.”
He had a tenth of a second in hand over Jari-Matti Latvala’s Yaris. Latvala, making a record 197th WRC start, was driving too aggressively in places but there were no errors from the Finn.
Despite temperatures hovering a couple of degrees above freezing, the forest roads had a strong ice base. With little fresh snow on the surface, the early starters were not handicapped by ploughing a clean line.
Second in the start order Thierry Neuville and road opener Sébastien Ogier took advantage of the clean conditions to hold fourth and fifth. Neuville trailed Latvala by 0.4sec with Ogier a further 8.4sec back in a Citroën C3.
“I wasn’t happy with the settings,” said Hyundai i20 driver Neuville. “It was very, very bumpy and I was jumping around like a kangaroo!”
Teemu Suninen – second in a Ford Fiesta
Esapekka Lappi was sixth in another C3, ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen, who completed Röjden with damage to the front left wing of his i20 after sliding into the snow.
Kris Meeke was eighth, the Briton believing he was not ‘adventurous’ enough in his Yaris. He headed Sébastien Loeb, who lacked confidence in his i20, with Elfyn Evans completing the leaderboard in a Fiesta.
Marcus Grönholm’s day came to a premature end on his first WRC start for nine years. After spinning his Yaris in both Hof-Finnskog and Svullrya, the Finn retired after plunging down a bank in Röjden.
Pontus Tidemand dropped time with a suspected sticking throttle in his Fiesta. Lorenzo Bertelli spun twice, and limped to the end of Röjden with his Fiesta in safety mode after snow blocked the radiator and the engine temperature soared.
WRC: Rally Sweden – Classification after SS4
1. Ott Tanak EST Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing 33m 16.5s
2. Teemu Suninen FIN M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +5.5s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala FIN Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing +5.6s
4. Thierry Neuville BEL Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +6.0s
5. Sebastien Ogier FRA Citroen C3 WRC +14.4s
6. Esapekka Lappi FIN Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing +14.8s
7. Andreas Mikkelsen NOR Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +17.3s
8. Kris Meeke GBR Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing +29.8s
9. Sebastien Loeb FRA Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +43.5s
10. Elfyn Evans GBR M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +45.1s
11. Pontus Tidemand SWE M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +1m 06.5s
12. Ole Christian Veiby NOR Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +1m 39.5s
13. Mads Ostberg NOR Citroen Total C3 R5 +1 50.9s
14. Johan Kristoffersson SWE Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +1m 57.9s
15. Emil Lindholm FIN Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 +2 03.7s
Marcus Gronholm FIN Toyota Yaris Gazoo Racing SS4 Accident