SS17 Rammen 1
Rally Sweden leader Mikko Hirvonen did a successful job of defending his position on Sunday opening stage, preventing a hard charging Sebastien Loeb from taking any more than two-tenths from his 16 second advantage.
Running first and second through the 21.87km Rammen test, the pair left the other competitors trailing in their wake - with third fastest Dani Sordo 9.7sec further back.
"I pushed hard, because I knew he's do a good time - it's no surprise," smiled Hirvonen at the finish control.
Loeb meanwhile wasn't prepared to give up on his chance of a win just yet. "I tried really hard but he was right there again, really strong and fast - I couldn't do better. We'll continue to push though, let's see where we are after the service [after SS18].
SS18 Varmullsasen 1
Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb has conceded defeat in the battle for victory in Rally Sweden, saying his Ford rival Mikko Hirvonen is too strong in the conditions.
Citroen C4 driver Loeb threw in the towel at the end of Sunday's second stage, the 23km Varmullsasen, after rally leader Hirvonen won the test in a time 7.3 seconds quicker.
Trailing Hirvonen by 23.7sec overall with three more stages to run, Loeb said he would settle instead for 18 points and the runner-up place.
"I decided to stop fighting," said Loeb. "There's no change. Even on the limit, when I do no mistakes, he's as fast as me. I prefer to try and finish second now. On this stage I make a few mistakes and had a few moments. He's too strong here."