WRC 2013 Sweden Feb7-10 talk/results spoiler**
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This is a discussion on WRC 2013 Sweden Feb7-10 talk/results spoiler** within the Motorsports Talk forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; -------------------- Round 2 Sweden 07-10 Feb With the return of Rally Monte-Carlo to the WRC in 2011, Rally Sweden has ...

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    Cool WRC 2013 Sweden Feb7-10 talk/results spoiler**

    --------------------

    Round 2 Sweden 07-10 Feb




    With the return of Rally Monte-Carlo to the WRC in 2011, Rally Sweden has gone back to its traditional slot of being the second rally of the year. It consists of 22 stages over a competitive distance of 339 kilometres with the start and finish in Karlstad and the permanent service park in Hagfors. Friday’s route is based in the Hagfors region, Saturday’s stages take place east of the town with the bulk of Sunday’s action taking place over the border in Norway.

    Despite ambient temperatures dipping to as low as minus 25 degrees centigrade, fans flock to the stages in greater number to witness the spectacle of drivers charging through ice- and snow-coated roads at full speed, which can be achieved thanks to their metal studded tyres, which bite through the soft snow surface and into the hard-packed ground below.

    As well as relying on their studded tyres, drivers make the most of the snow banks that line much of the route. They act as soft barriers and enable drivers to ‘lean’ their cars through the corners. However, they represent a major hazard when corners are taken too quickly with several drivers dropping vital time getting stuck or having their radiators filled with snow.

    Official Website: rallysweden.com

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/



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    Ogier fastest in Qualifying

    Sebastien Ogier continued Volkswagen's promising start to its debut WRC season by setting fastest time on this morning's Rally Sweden Qualifying Stage.

    The Frenchman completed the 3.99km snow test in 1m51.357s in his Polo R WRC, 0.900 seconds quicker than Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Mads Ostberg.

    The result means that Ogier will be able to choose where he wants to start Friday’s first full day of the rally in order to make the best possible use of road position.

    “I couldn’t expect any better, so I’m happy with that for sure,” Ogier told wrc.com. “It’s a good start and in these conditions it means a lot to have first choice of starting position.”

    Ogier will make his selection this evening at the opening Super Special in Karlstad. Ogier remained tight-lipped about his choice but confirmed it would be some way down the order. “There was quite a lot of [road] cleaning, the times were getting quicker and quicker and we expect the same for tomorrow. I’m not saying where I’d like to be, but let’s just say I will not be first on the road…”

    Norwegian Ostberg was also thinking tactics. “I wanted to do a good qualifying but I didn’t want to win either, so second was the best position I could have.

    “I think selecting the starting position in conditions like this is difficult. I know which place I would have wanted, but it depends a lot on what the other drivers do as well so I don’t have everyone behind me. It’s difficult with the splits if it’s like that, so I need to consider everything. To some point I will follow Ogier. It depends on what he does,” he said.

    Third was Mikko Hirvonen, his Citroen DS3 WRC 1.564sec behind Ogier. “I’m quite happy, maybe a bit surprised how fast Ogier was, but it’s OK and we can still choose a good road position,” said the Finn.

    Conditions were cold and bright for the session, with light snowfall and a temperature of -5C. The cars started in championship order, meaning Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb went first. The nine-time world champion was eighth.

    Jarkko Nikara got his rally off to a scary start, spinning his MINI John Cooper Works in sixth gear near the end of the second practice run. The Finn was lucky to escape the high speed off with just a broken rear wheel and light front suspension damage.

    Rally Sweden top ten times at qualifying

    1: Ogier. Volkswagen Polo R WRC. 1:51.357
    2: Ostberg. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 01:52.257 (+0.900)
    3: Hirvonen. Citroen DS3 WRC. 01:52.921(+1.564)
    4: Tidemand. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 01:53.803 (+2.448)
    5: Hanninen. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 01:53.918 (+2.561)
    6: Latvala. Volkswagen Polo R WRC. 01:54.062 (+2.705)
    7: Neuville. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 01:54.394 (+3.037)
    8: Loeb. Citroen DS3 WRC. 01:54.825 (+3.468)
    9: Novikov. Ford Fiesta RS WRC. 01:55.550 (+4.193)
    10: Sordo. Citroen DS3 WRC. 01:56.144 (+4.787)

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden-qualifying/


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    Loeb leads after Swedish opener



    Sebastien Loeb took top honours after winning the headline heat against fellow Frenchman and former team-mate Sebastien Ogier.

    His Citroen DS3 WRC was 2.5sec faster than Ogier, who dropped time after swiping a snowbank in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

    “It was just a short stage and nothing special to do. Everything went well, but now we have to start with the real stages tomorrow,” said Loeb.

    Ogier was slightly perturbed at the stop line. “It wasn’t so good. I’m not sure if I had a puncture on the rear right. Something feels strange on the car,” he said. Ogier is ninth.

    Loeb’s win gave him a 0.5sec advantage on the leaderboard over the Ford Fiesta RS WRC of Evgeny Novikov and the Polo R WRC of Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Novikov defeated Dani Sordo in their head-to-head duel and said: “We’re here to fight and I feel confident and comfortable.”

    Latvala beat former team-mate Mikko Hirvonen, although he admitted his run wasn’t perfect. “No big mistakes, just a couple of times I went wide. I feel relaxed now for tomorrow,” he said.

    Hirvonen was equal fourth fastest with Mads Ostberg and Thierry Neuville rounded off the top six.

    Ford Fiesta RRC driver Yazeed Al Rajhi is overnight leader of the WRC 2 category, with Subaru Impreza drivers Yuriy Protasov and Anders Grondal second and third. Championship leader Sepp Wiegand made a clean start, setting fifth fastest time in his Skoda Fabia S2000.

    But there was an early upset for one of the class favourites, Fiesta RCC driver Eyvind Brynildsen, who started nine minutes late because of an engine problem.

    “I parked up before the stage and when the time came to check-in the engine wouldn’t start,” the Norwegian explained. “The M-Sport guys were quick to help and they found something in the wiring that got us going, but I think we have a one and a half minute penalty. Now we really have a big job to do this weekend!”

    The rally continues tomorrow when drivers leave Karlstad at 06.10hrs. After service at Hagfors Airport, the opening stage is the 15,00km Lesjofors which starts at 08.39hrs.

    click: wrc.com/news/loeb-leads-after-swedish-opener/




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    Friday:
    SS2: Ogier and Latvala set pace




    Volkswagen Motorsport made the best possible start as Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala set the pace in their Polo R cars to claim first and second on the leaderboard. However, two of the expected frontrunners hit immediate trouble.

    Mikko Hirvonen went off early in the stage and with no spectators present, the Finn could not get his Citroen DS3 back on the road. It took almost 25 minutes to get on the move, his hopes of a strong result already over.

    Mads Ostberg arrived at the finish fifth fastest, but the Norwegian was far from happy. “I have engine problems. Really bad. Massive overheating and no power,” he said, his Fiesta RS leaving anti-freeze on the road as he left the stop line.

    He and co-driver Jonas Andersson stopped 700 metres down the road and identified the problem with advice over the telephone from Qatar M-Sport engineers. They taped up what is believed to be a split pipe and topped up the engine’s coolant system before heading to the next stage.

    Temperatures were a relatively mild -7C, but snow since the recce ensured conditions were tricky. Grip improved with the passage of every driver as cars swept the snow clear to leave a faster line.

    Ogier was 2.2sec quicker than his team-mate, the Frenchman explaining: “I saw Mikko off the road and lost concentration. I was too careful afterwards but conditions weren’t easy.”

    Latvala admitted it was hard to find a rhythm in the fresh snow, but the Finn was 1.3sec faster than overnight leader Sebastien Loeb, who concurred. “It would have been very easy to slide into a ditch,” said Loeb, just 1.0sec behind Ogier overall.

    Young Swede Pontus Tidemand was fourth in a Fiesta RS, reaching the finish with a huge smile on his face. “That was great. It was really loose so I dropped a little time with too much sliding but I think everyone is doing that, so it’s OK,” he said.

    Matthew Wilson and Khalid Al Qassimi went off at the same bend 3km before the finish. “People had been wide at a left corner and there was no snow bank and we were sucked into the snow. We were almost back on the road but then Khalid went off. He was parked behind us and the spectators were split between trying to get us both out,” said Wilson.

    Wilson lost more than four minutes while Al Qassimi dropped over seven minutes.

    Jari Ketomaa struggled with a power steering problem on his Fiesta RS, while Michal Kosciuszko finished with a leaking cylinder in the clutch of his MINI John Cooper Works, leaving a trail of oil at the stop line.

    Pacesetter in the WRC 2 category was Fiesta RRC driver Eyvind Brynildsen. The Norwegian fought back after collecting a 1min 40sec penalty last night. He was 22.9sec quicker than leader Yazeed Al Rajhi, with Sepp Wiegand 11.4sec further back in third. Brynildsen remains a long way down the WRC 2 order, but narrowed the gap to the leader 1m 19.2s.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss2



    ----------------------

    SS3: Ogier edges ahead



    Polo R driver Sebastien Ogier was fastest once again on Friday’s second test, the Frenchman completing Varmullsasen 3.1sec quicker than his closest rival on the stage, Mads Ostberg. Sebastien Loeb was third fastest, 5.2sec off Ogier’s pace.

    “Another good stage for us. A little problem with the shifting, but okay,” Ogier reported at the finish control.

    Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala slipped to third when a layer of fresh snow on the road gave him handling concerns. “It’s alright but I’m struggling a little bit to get confident and I’m worried about losing the rear. Everywhere else is okay it’s just that. I think we can improve things by changing the set-up,” he said.

    Now up to second, Loeb was happy with a clean run in his Citroen DS3. “It was a good drive with no mistakes - and that’s the most important thing. There’s still some snow around, but the bite was better in this stage than the first,” he said.

    After some worrying over-heating issues on SS2, Ostberg’s Fiesta RS seemed to be running sweetly at the end of SS3. The Norwegian and co-driver Jonas Andersson made roadside repairs to the cooling system on the pre-stage road section but collected a 30-second penalty for checking-in late. Despite his excellent stage time, a still furious Ostberg said nothing at the finish control.

    WRC Academy graduate Pontus Tidemand continued his sensational form, going fifth fastest in his Ford Fiesta RS. The Norwegian, 22, moved up to fourth overall. “It’s going good, we’re really happy,” he said.

    Jarkko Nikara lost the dubious honour of being first in the running order when he went off near the start, burying his MINI in a snow bank. Fellow MINI pilot Michal Kosciusko now heads the field. “It’s a tough position to be in,” acknowledged Kosciuszko. “From the moment we passed Nikara it got more slippery.”

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss3



    ----------------------

    SS4: Ostberg fastest, Ogier leads



    Mads Ostberg recovered from his early morning problems to post fastest time through the final stage of the morning loop. The Norwegian was quickest by just a tenth of a second in a Ford Fiesta RS from Sebastien Ogier, with Jari-Matti Latvala 1.6sec slower in third.

    But as cars headed back to Hagfors for service, it was Ogier at the top of the leaderboard in a Volkswagen Polo R. The Frenchman has a 10.1sec advantage over Sebastien Loeb’s Citroen DS3, with Latvala’s Polo R just 0.8sec back in third.

    Ostberg’s overheating woes continued to bother the Norwegian, but didn’t slow him. “The alarm was on and that was annoying and disturbing. I tried to push but the alarm came on and put me out of focus. I couldn’t drive at 100 per cent. It’s trouble for me because I’ve lost too much time,” he said.

    He is sixth overall, 40.0sec from the lead, but Qatar M-Sport team boss Malcolm Wilson refused to accept that Ostberg’s chances were gone. “His pace has been incredible given the problem. It’s not all over yet!” he stated.

    Ogier, too, was having to compensate for car issues. “I still have a problem with shifting,” he explained. “It’s OK but I have to use the clutch, especially in low gear.”

    Loeb and Latvala were engrossed in a tight battle for second overall. Latvala was 2.4 faster than his rival through the stage and is now breathing down his neck.

    Loeb was perplexed as where he lost time in one specific split section of the stage. “I didn’t make any mistakes, so maybe it just wasn’t good driving. It’s hard to find a good rhythm and stay on the road,” he said.

    Perhaps the star of the morning has been Pontus Tidemand. The 22-year-old Swede was seventh on the stage in a Fiesta RS, but lies fourth overall on his debut in a World Rally Car. His secret? “A good rhythm and no mistakes,” he said.

    Fastest time from Norwegian Anders Grondal moved him into the lead of the WRC 2 category. The Subaru Impreza driver headed to service with a 10 second advantage over Fiesta RRC driver Yazeed Al Rajhi, who damaged a wheel near the finish.

    Championship leader Sepp Wiegand is third in a Skoda S2000 but under increasing pressure from a resurgent Eyvind Brynildsen. Brynildsen, who picked up a 1m40s penalty earlier, won two of the morning’s stages but had a lucky escape on the third.

    “I made a mistake just after Colin’s Crest, and spun flat out in sixth gear,” the Fiesta driver explained. “There was snow everywhere and when we stopped we were in the middle of the road pointing the wrong way. Okay, it’s made the job a bit more difficult but I’ve already got back one minute. Maybe the karma has changed now!”

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss4





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    SS5: Polo R pilot stretches Sweden advantage

    Sebastien Ogier increased his lead by winning the second pass through Lesjofors. The Volkswagen Polo R driver was quickest by 3.9sec to extend his lead to an increasingly comfortable 16.8sec.

    “Another really good stage. I’m really happy with my driving and the car is perfect at the moment,” said the unflappable Frenchman.

    Mads Ostberg was second fastest, the Norwegian further boosted by having his 30sec road penalty for checking in late at the start of stage three reduced by 10sec. That promoted him from sixth to fourth, the Fiesta RS pilot 33.9sec from the lead.

    “I made a tyre choice which was a bit risky – I took just one spare. I fear it will be a bit hard for the remaining stages this afternoon. But that time wasn’t so bad and I took time from Latvala and Loeb,” explained Ostberg.

    Latvala and Loeb were third and fourth, and the 0.9sec gap between them was sufficient for the Finn to displace the Frenchman from second overall. Just one-tenth of a second separates the warring duo.

    “We start to have gravel coming through,” said Loeb. “The grip in the lines is good on gravel, but when you go out of the lines you lose the car completely.”

    Evgeny Novikov was fifth in a Fiesta RS, moving ahead of the similar car of Pontus Tidemand. The young Swede admitted he could drive faster but warned: “I should not try to do that, otherwise I will not be here!”

    Both Michal Kosciuszko and Khalid Al Qassimi buried their cars deep into the snow. Kosciuszko, who had a new gearbox fitted to his MINI John Cooper Works in service, dropped about five minutes while the Abu Dhabi pilot lost four.

    “I wish I was at home,” said the Citroen DS3 driver, who lost seven minutes after going off in the same test this morning.

    Eyvind Brynildsen’s impressive recovery in the WRC 2 category came to a sudden end at the pre-stage service when team engineers discovered a crack in his Ford Fiesta’s engine block and retired the car.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss5



    ---------------------

    SS6: Ogier keeps cool though Varmullsasen



    Rally leader Sebastien Ogier continued to edge ahead of the chasing pack on the repeated Varmullsasen stage. Another quickest time for the Frenchman, his fourth of the day, moved him 24.1sec clear at the top of the leaderboard.

    Ogier had a clean run through in his Polo R but found the final ski-slope descent difficult on studded tyres that had lost some of their bite. “Everything is okay but I had to take it a little bit more carefully near the end. It’s not easy to stay on the road in these conditions when the tyres are a bit old,” he explained.

    Mads Ostberg was second fastest, 2.3sec slower than Ogier, and also thinking about his tyres ahead of the repeat of the 24km Vargasen. “There’s was a lot of gravel in there and I have only one spare tyre, so I had to take it carefully to keep them in decent condition for the last stage. I think they are okay,” he said.

    After his earlier scare with a broken cooling system, Ostberg was content to be fourth with his Fiesta back at full strength. “It’s working very well and I’m quite pleased. It’s now a lot calmer in the car and I think we are managing quite well."

    Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest, with Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala fourth to hold second overall. “We’re losing studs from the front tyres and that led to a few moments near the end. It’s a good job we have two spare tyres for the next one,” said Latvala.

    Sebastien Loeb rounded off the top five times. The nine-time world champion slid wide into a snow bank before the flying finish and admitted the stage hadn’t been one of his tidiest. “I made a few mistakes, and I have a bit too much understeer so it’s difficult to keep the car on the racing line. It was really tricky.”

    Loeb also slowed to pass spectators helping his Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo who had gone off the road. Sordo’s DS3 was eventually manhandled back onto the stage and the Spaniard completed but the incident cost him more than four minutes, dropping him from eighth to thirteenth.

    Jari Ketomaa retired on the road section between SS5 and SS6. The Finn’s Fiesta RS driver is reported to have a broken driveshaft.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss6



    ---------------------

    SS7



    ---------------------

    Friday wrap:

    Sebastien Ogier completed a hat-trick of stage wins this afternoon to increase his lead to 32.2sec with just a repeat of last night’s curtain-raising super special stage in Karlstad remaining.

    The Frenchman was fastest through the final Vargasen forest test by 6.6sec in a Volkswagen Polo R, his fifth win from six stages emphasising his dominance. Ogier benefited from the best start position, but that advantage was earned with fastest in qualifying yesterday.

    “Incredible. It’s a really good feeling. This morning wasn’t perfect but it was enough with a good road position. This afternoon was perfect,” reflected Ogier.

    Sebastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala battled all day for best of the rest behind Ogier. Four times the duo swapped positions but an intercom problem for Latvala in Vargasen meant Loeb holds second, a slender 1.5sec ahead of the Finn.

    The Citroen DS3 driver was third fastest in SS6, 2.0sec ahead of Latvala, and said: “It started to be hard for the tyres in here. I had two spares and used them both. The road is cleaning because the times behind me are faster. Tomorrow our start position will be closer to the others.”

    Mads Ostberg, in a Qatar M-Sport Fiesta RS, was the only man other than Ogier to win a stage today. A 20sec road penalty imposed when the Norwegian was late starting stage three after stopping to fix a leaking water pipe left him fourth, 42.8sec from the lead.

    But the Norwegian, tipped by many as a potential winner, remains confident. “We have good speed and we should be able to catch Loeb and Latvala tomorrow, but Ogier is just too fast,” he said.

    Behind Ostberg in fifth is Evgeny Novikov. He is 10.5sec clear of Pontus Tidemand, the young Swede excelling on his championship debut in a World Rally Car, with Juho Hanninen a further 29.0sec behind in seventh.

    Thierry Neuville, Henning Solberg and Martin Prokop, all in Fiesta RS cars, round off the top 10.

    Norwegian Anders Grondal leads the WRC 2 category, the Subaru Impreza driver holding a 6.1sec advantage over Yazeed Al Rajhi.

    Grondal dropped a minute when he left the road on SS2, but a succession of rapid times since, including stage wins on SS4 and SS5, enabled him to pull clear.

    Al Rajhi, from Saudi Arabia, rounded off a strong day with a stage win in Vargasen, while championship leader Sepp Wiegand is third, 1m06.2s behind Al Rajhi.

    click: wrc.com/news/friday-wrap



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    Friday WRC 2 wrap:



    Norwegian Anders Grondal leads the WRC 2 category of Rally Sweden after Friday's six snow-covered forest stages.

    With just the 1.9km Karlstad super special still to run, the Subaru Impreza driver, a multiple Norwegian champion, has a relatively comfortable 34.2sec advantage over Yazeed Al Rajhi.

    The day didn’t start well for Grondal, who dropped a minute when he left the road on SS2, but a succession of rapid times since, including stage wins on SS4, SS5 and SS7, enabled him to pull clear of his rivals.

    “It’s been an incredible day,” said Grondal. “On the first stage my co-driver had to get out and change the air filter after it was clogged with snow but after that it’s been perfect. We’re not taking any big risks so we have a little extra in our pocket if we need it. For now though our rhythm is pretty much perfect.”

    Al Rajhi, from Saudi Arabia, was the fastest WRC 2 driver on SS6. Despite having to overcome a broken differential, the Ford Fiesta RRC driver has consistently finished in the top three stage times.

    Championship leader Sepp Wiegand is third, 1m07.7s behind Al Rajhi. “I think in the beginning it was not so good because everything was new and I had to find a good rhythm and a better feeling for the snow and the ice,” said the Skoda Fabia S2000 driver.

    “On the last stage (SS7) we had a problem with the brakes but basically I’m happy because the afternoon loop was better than the first and so tomorrow, as we learn more and more, we should be faster and faster.”

    Ukrainian driver Yuriy Protasov is a distant fourth in his Subaru, 2m 28.1s behind Wiegand, with Mitsubishi driver Nicolas Fuchs rounding off the top five 1m12.3s further back.

    One of the pre-event favourites for the class win, Eyvind Brynildsen, retired at the midday service. The Norwegian collected a 1min40sec penalty on Thursday night after his Ford Fiesta RRC refused to start.

    The Norwegian mounted an impressive recovery on Friday morning, taking stage wins on SS2 and SS3, but he had to stop after SS4 when team engineers discovered a crack in his car's engine block.

    click: wrc.com/news/friday-wrc-2-wrap


    ---------------------

    SS8: Joy at last for Mikko




    Mikko Hirvonen gained some happiness from a disastrous day when he shared fastest time with Thierry Neuville through the second and final run at the Karlstad super special stage tonight.

    The Finn, whose victory hopes ended just 1km into this morning’s opening stage when he rolled his Citroen DS3 into a snow bank, outpaced Mads Ostberg in their head-to-head duel.

    “That’s more like it!” said Hirvonen. “I’m really happy with the car. Tomorrow I’ll have a difficult road position, maybe second or third on the road, so that won’t be easy.”

    Matching his pace was Neuville, whose Fiesta RS defeated Jarkko Nikara’s MINI John Cooper Works. “The start line was very slippery, so I tried to do a different start and it worked out,” said 24-year-old Neuville.

    Third was Sebastien Loeb, 0.3sec behind the leading duo, with Jari-Matti Latvala in fourth, a further 0.2sec behind. Latvala said he made changes to the set-up of his Volkswagen Polo R at the Hagfors service before the stage ahead of tomorrow’s second leg.

    Tied in fifth were Mads Ostberg and Pontus Tidemand.

    The rally continues tomorrow when drivers leave Karlstad at 06.15hrs. After service at Hagfors Airport, the opening stage is the 14.23km Sagen which starts at 08.47hrs.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss8





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    Saturday
    SS9: Ogier fastest but Tidemand out


    Overnight leader Sebastien Ogier began Saturday’s competition in dominant form with a fastest time on the opening Sagen test. But the stage proved disastrous for lead Swede Pontus Tidemand who retired almost within sight of the flying finish.

    Tackling today’s stages from 17th in the running order, Polo R driver Ogier completed the 14km stage 2.1sec faster than Sebastien Loeb in a Citroen DS3. Mads Ostberg was third in a Ford Fiesta RS, 3.5sec slower than Ogier.

    “It’s good to start the day like that,” said Ogier. “No mistakes. The car is just perfect and I get a lot of pleasure to drive it. The package is good but there is a long way to go so we have to keep the concentration.”

    In contrast to Friday’s twisty, technical forest stages, Saturday began on a wide, flowing smooth road. There had been some fresh snow overnight but drivers enjoyed consistent grip throughout. The temperature was a chilly -10c degrees.

    “The road conditions were really good and I think I drove well,” said Loeb. “I tried to push so the gap to Ogier shouldn’t be so big.”

    Ostberg said his start position of 14th on the road was perfect. “There was quite a lot of loose snow so I stayed in the swept line all the time. For me that’s the fastest way.”

    Tidemand, 22, was sixth overnight after impressing on his debut in a World Rally Car. However on SS9 the Swede’s Ford Fiesta RS developed a serious engine problem and he was forced to park by the roadside 1km from the finish line.

    Matthew Wilson was another Sagen retirement, the Brit rolling his Ford Fiesta RS 10km from the start.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss9



    --------------------

    SS10: Latvala takes first stage win



    For once it wasn’t Sebastien Ogier who was quickest through the forests as attention turned to the three-way battle for second place.

    Jari-Matti Latvala, Sebastien Loeb and Mads Ostberg fought tooth and nail and at the end of it all just 0.3sec covered the trio at the top of the time sheet.

    Latvala claimed the win in his Volkswagen Polo R, 0.2sec ahead of Loeb’s Citroen DS3 with Ostberg’s Fiesta RS another tenth of a second behind.

    While Latvala and Ostberg were barely split by more than a blink of an eye all the way through the test, Loeb dropped time at the start but closed on his rivals as the stage progressed.

    “I’ve started to get my confidence back,” said Latvala. “I was a little unhappy. I know the car is good but I don’t understand its limits and that’s why I’ve struggled sometimes. But it feels more natural now and I’m getting closer.”

    Loeb explained his time loss. “At the start along the lake, I don’t know how to do that. But I pushed hard afterwards and closed the gap again,” said the nine-time world champion.

    Ostberg was critical of himself at the finish. “I think I pushed too hard. I saw Latvala’s split times and wanted more, but ended up going in the wrong direction. I wanted too much and lost the line in too many places and ended up losing time. It wasn’t too clever,” said the 25-year-old Norwegian.

    Evgeny Novikov brought his Fiesta RS to the finish fourth fastest, but what of rally leader Sebastien Ogier?

    The Frenchman was fifth but was quick to assure everyone there were no problems inside the Polo R. He couldn’t find a rhythm and rather than force the pace, he took the cautious option, eased his speed and ended the test 5.0sec behind Latvala.

    The stage had little effect on the leaderboard, although Loeb reduced the deficit to Ogier to 28.7sec.

    Elsewhere, there was little drama with Mikko Hirvonen sixth fastest, ahead of Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville, the Belgian feeling the stage was rough for his set-up.

    “I hit the sump guard so I slowed a little. We’ll look to change the ride height because it’s too rough for the car,” said Neuville.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss10



    --------------------

    SS11




    --------------------

    SS12




    -----------------------

    Saturday midday update:


    Crews tackled the 22km Rammen and the short Hagford Sprint in quick succession before heading to their team bases for the 30-minute midpoint service.

    Polo R driver Ogier was fastest on just the opening stage today, as his mission shifted from taking the lead to protecting it. “Now’s not the time to push anymore - we just try to control,” he said after SS11. Ogier felt he needed to work on improving his stage starts but reckoned the rest of his morning had been almost perfect.

    Citroen DS3 driver Loeb left for the short drive to service in second place, and a little more secure in the position after a stage win on SS11 pulled him 5.9sec ahead of the chasing Latvala.

    “It was okay but I’m on my limit, for sure,” said Loeb. “The grip on SS11 was better than we had yesterday and the car is going well so I can push harder. I made a little mistake on an icy hairpin on the short stage but apart from that no problems.”

    Latvala made a big play for Loeb’s position on SS10, but the Polo R driver couldn’t touch the Frenchman’s pace on SS11. “The car is fine but I need to improve my driving because I was too cautious under braking,” Latvala explained. “The problem I think is that I need to drive this car more like a front-wheel drive, at the moment I’m thinking more about the rear.”

    As well as his driving, Latvala had to think about Fiesta RS pilot Mads Ostberg, who rounded off the morning loop just 1.5sec behind in fourth.

    Ostberg began the day with ambitious plans to reel-in both Latvala and Loeb and was satisfied with his progress so far. “The guys ahead are not making it easy but we carry on and try to catch them,” he said. “We have done exactly what we wanted but Sebastien has increased his speed so it’s difficult. It was supposed to be the other way around! I don’t want to test the limit, so we’ll carry on as we are now.”

    Ostberg heads a group of six Ford Fiesta RS drivers in the top ten. Evgeny Novikov is 44sec behind in fifth, with Juho Hanninen 58sec further back in sixth. Thierry Neuville is less than nine seconds behind Hanninen in seventh.

    Henning Solberg, Martin Prokop and Citroen DS3 driver Dani Sordo round off the top-10.

    Anders Grondal retained his overnight lead in the WRC 2 category, but second-placed Yazeed Al Rajhi was the man on form this morning.

    Grondal restarted with a 32.6sec advantage in his Subaru Impreza, but the Saudi Arabian driver won three of the four stages in his Ford Fiesta RRC to reduce the gap to 17.6sec. Grondal opted for used tyres, preferring to save his new rubber for later.

    Championship leader Sepp Wiegand remains third in a Skoda Fabia S2000, 2min 34.4sec behind Grondal, with Ukraine’s Yuri Protasov still fourth.

    click: wrc.com/news/saturday-midday


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    Petter Solberg Wins in Sweden


    pic from : maxrally.com/2013/02/09/

    Petter Solberg has won the 2013 Rally Sweden Historic in his Mk11 Ford Escort.
    After a tough day 1 Petter and Pernilla were lying in 3rd but fought back to take the win by nearly 2 minutes ahead of Audi Quattro driver Erik Johansson.

    Petter told a 6RT spokesman that he'd had a fantastic rally, and that on the stages shared with the WRC cars, he'd have been placed 20th overall, and that's without proper pace-notes!

    Congratulations to Petter and Pernilla Solberg on the win

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    SS13: Super Sebastiens tie Sagen



    There was nothing to separate Rally Sweden’s top two drivers on the afternoon’s opening test, with Sebastien Ogier and his fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb setting exactly the same time through the 14km Sagen.

    Citroen ace Loeb was the first of the pair to start, the DS3 driver determined to narrow the 25.2sec gap to his former team-mate ahead.

    “I was pushing hard and made no mistakes but I think the guys behind are also pushing very hard,” said Loeb. “The set-up is better than yesterday for sure but the road position isn’t making it easy to push.”

    Polo R driver Ogier was next through and happy to have kept his lead intact, despite a hiccup near the finish. “We were pushing hard and I made a small mistake at the end when I wasn’t clean enough,” he explained. “Up to that point I was a few tenths up on Loeb. But it’s okay, it’s enough like that.”

    After the passage of the entire 42-car field, plus the classic rally entrants, the smooth snow surface of Sagen was more rutted for the repeat and there was plenty of stud-damaging gravel mixed in with the snow.

    Resuming his fight with Jari-Matti Latvala for third, Ford Fiesta RS pilot Mads Ostberg adopted a cautious approach on the first of the afternoon’s four stages. “I took it quite steady because I want to take care of my tyres in here,” he said. “I drove according to Latvala’s splits and I think we controlled the pace well. We’ll try to push more on the next one.”

    Latvala went on to set the third fastest time in his Polo R, just 0.3sec quicker than Ostberg: “I haven’t made up much time but it’s a step in the right direction,” said Latvala. “Maybe its time to concentrate on the driving and not think about it too much!”

    Evgeny Novikov was fifth fastest with Juho Hanninen sixth - successfully fending off a challenge from a hard-charging Thierry Neuville behind.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss13



    ---------------------

    SS14: Ostberg takes third as Latvala falls back



    Sebastien Ogier rattled off another stage win to extend his lead to 27.6sec, but the real winner in Fredriksberg was Mads Ostberg, whose third fastest time was sufficient to promote him into third overall ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Ostberg finished 5.9sec behind the flying Ogier, but the Norwegian pilot still had an eye on today’s final couple of stages.

    “I was nearly six seconds faster than Latvala at the last split so I slowed a little to take care of the tyres for the next stage,” explained the Ford Fiesta RS driver, who is 3.1sec clear of his rival.

    Latvala could only set fifth fastest time in his Polo R and the 27-year-old Finn cut a demoralised figure at the stop line.

    “Very difficult conditions with very narrow ruts,” he said. “I did not feel comfortable at all with the car.” Asked what he could do, Latvala simply replied: “I don’t know.”

    Despite tricky conditions for the studded tyres as gravel showed through the snow and ice, Ogier was in a league of his own. The Frenchman was already 2.8sec faster than anyone else at the opening split time after just 4.5km, and controled his pace through the rest of the stage.

    “I had good splits and backed off a little at the end. It’s a really good feeling, but we have to make it to the end,” he said.

    Sandwiched between Ogier and Ostberg in the stage rankings was Sebastien Loeb, who finished 2.9sec behind his fellow countryman. Loeb’s Citroen DS3 showed a few battle scars on the front bumper, but the impact hadn’t made any impression on him.

    “I don’t know what I hit, maybe it was a bit of a snow bank. I had understeer in the gravel and they were difficult conditions,” he said.

    Evgeny Novikov was fourth fastest in his Fiesta RS, while behind Latvala in sixth was Thierry Neuville, the Belgian feeling more comfortable after raising the ride height of his similar car in service.

    Jari Ketomaa and Khalid Al Qassimi both survived tussles with a snowbank, while Jarkko Nikara lost 10 seconds in his MINI John Cooper Works after overshooting the final corner.

    Ford Fiesta RRC driver Yazeed Al Rajhi continued his strong challenge for the lead of the WRC 2 category. Fastest time was the Saudi Arabian’s fifth win of the day and he narrowed the gap to class leader Anders Grondal to just 5.1sec. Sepp Wiegand remains third in a Skoda Fabia S2000, 2min 54.2sec behind Grondal, with Ukraine’s Yuri Protasov still fourth.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss14



    ---------------------

    SS15: Leaders hold steady



    There were no changes to the top-10 positions on the repeated Rammen stage, with the lead trio of Sebastien Ogier, Sebastien Loeb and Mads Ostberg setting the three fastest times.

    Further down the order, Khalid Al Qassimi retired from eleventh place after he went off mid-stage and crashed into some bushes. The Abu Dhabi driver nursed his Citroen DS3 to the finish control with a broken front wheel but stopped a few yards later when his Fiesta’s radiator was found to be broken.

    In the battle for sixth, Thierry Neuville’s chances of catching Juho Hanninen took a knock when he lost a few seconds with a gear selection problem. Another faultless performance for Hanninen enabled him to increase his advantage to 15.8sec.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss15



    ---------------------

    SS16:







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    Sat Wrap:

    Sebastien Ogier remained in control of Rally Sweden after today's second leg. The Frenchman won three of the eight stages in his Volkswagen Polo R and will start the final day with a 26.9sec lead over Sebastien Loeb.

    He has led since the second stage and began today with a 31.4sec advantage. The 29-year-old won the first test and added two more wins this afternoon to preserve what would appear to be a comfortable margin ahead of tomorrow’s last leg.

    “It was another very good day for us,” said Ogier. “The morning was a question of finding a rhythm. It’s not easy when you don’t have to push completely to the maximum. We have a comfortable lead so that’s good.”

    Drivers tackled two identical loops of four stages east of the Hagfors service park covering 114.02km. The snow-covered roads were in good condition this morning, but when the stages were repeated, gravel filled ruts presented difficulties as tyres shed their studs.

    Loeb said his Citroen DS3 understeered in the gravel but the nine-time world champion won three stages to keep in contact with his former team-mate.

    “I lost a lot of time to Ogier yesterday after my bad qualifying made it quite expensive. Today we’ve been in a good battle, but we’re too far behind. More than 20 seconds is too much,” said Loeb.

    Loeb’s pace carried him clear of Mads Ostberg and Jari-Matti Latvala who dueled for third. Ostberg had the upper hand and the Ford Fiesta RS driver finally moved ahead in the second stage this afternoon to end 6.1sec ahead of the Polo R pilot.

    “Loeb increased his speed and it was difficult to keep up. For the last half of the day we focused on Latvala and took time off him, which is good for our start position tomorrow. I can’t do more than this at the moment. I’ll continue pushing and if something happens I’ll be there, but I can’t catch him,” said the 25-year-old.

    Latvala won one stage but the 27-year-old Finn was glad to turn off his engine for the evening. “It’s been a very, very frustrating day but we’re here and haven’t made any mistakes,” he said.

    Evgeny Novikov enjoyed a troublefree and consistent day to retain fifth, the first of a group of five Fiesta RS cars. Juho Hanninen and Thierry Neuville fought over sixth and the Belgian came out on top when Hanninen planted his car in a snow bank for more than a minute in the final stage.

    Henning Solberg, Martin Prokop and Dani Sordo complete the top 10.

    Pontus Tidemand was the day’s big casualty, the young Swede retiring from sixth with engine problems. Matthew Wilson rolled out in the same stage and Khalid Al Qassimi retired following the penultimate test after hitting a log pile and damaging his radiator.

    The final leg starts from Hagfors at 06.00 for six more stages, five of them in Norway, and covers 94.29km before the finish in Karlstad at 16.27.

    click: wrc.com/news/Sat Wrap


    ----------------------

    Sat WRC 2wrap:




    Anders Grondal resisted a determined drive from Yazeed Al Rajhi to retain the lead of the WRC 2 category in Rally Sweden tonight.

    Grondal called on his home fans to cheer him on through tomorrow’s Norwegian stages as he attempts to repel the Saudi Arabian driver, who reduced a 32.6sec deficit to just 4.5sec as the second leg ended in Hagfors.

    “I’m extremely happy with what we’ve done today,” said Grondal. “I’m doing the best I can and I feel like I’m getting everything out of the car so I have to be happy.

    “Tomorrow I’ll be in Norway, so maybe I’ll know the roads a little better. I’m going to push like hell and I hope everyone will be out on the stages with Norwegian flags to help us,” he added.

    Al Rajhi won six of Saturday’s eight stages in a Ford Fiesta RRC, making the most of his car’s weight advantage against Grondal’s ageing and less nimble Group N Subaru Impreza.
    Al Rajhi brought the gap down to 0.3sec after the penultimate Rammen stage, but Grondal clawed precious seconds back through the final test on the edge of Hagfors.

    “I couldn’t beat him here because I think I lost all the studs in my back tyres. I spin a lot, I slide a lot, so no chance. I try to push tomorrow and see what’s going on,” said Al Rajhi.

    Championship leader Sepp Wiegand is third in a Skoda Fabia S2000, 2min 55.2sec behind Al Rajhi: “The second loop especially was much, much better. We found a good rhythm. We tried something with the set up and it was also better. There was a little bit more grip on the clean line so we were able to push a bit more,” explained the German.

    Fourth is Ukraine’s Yuriy Protasov in a Subaru Impreza, a distant 3min 44.8sec behind Wiegand. Nicolas Fuchs rounds off the top five in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

    click: wrc.com/news/sat-wrc-2-wrap


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    Sweden Day 2 highlights




    -------------------

    Sunday
    SS17: Loeb goes on attack




    If Sebastien Loeb was going to attack Sebastien Ogier anywhere it was going to be on this long opening test. And so it proved.

    Second-placed Loeb went flat out and although he was fastest in his Citroen DS3, he only clawed back 3.3sec on Ogier. The gap between the two at the head of the leaderboard is now 23.6sec.

    “I went really hard on this one. All I can do is try to push him to the limit so I will try,” said Loeb, the sweat pouring from his brow indicating how hard he tried.

    Ogier was cool, calm and collected as he analysed the times, the Volkswagen Polo R driver saying: “It’s perfect. I’m really happy. I thought I could lose seven or eight seconds on this stage so it’s OK. I had to push because Loeb is flying now.”

    Mind games from the rally leader, perhaps?

    The battle for third between Mads Ostberg and Jari-Matti Latvala continued unabated, but their pace was far removed from the leading duo. Latvala was third fastest in his Polo R, 0.2sec ahead of Ostberg’s Ford Fiesta RS but a distant 14.9sec behind Loeb.

    Ostberg was 3.0sec behind the Finn at the opening split after only 1.98km and did well to regain most of the time. “The start was bad, I could not find a rhythm,” he said. “I was struggling so much but when we passed the border, everything was better.

    Asked if he could stay ahead of Latvala in the standings, the 25-year-old Norwegian simply replied: “No – not when I drive this bad.”

    Latvala was happier after being so frustrated yesterday. “Much better driving than yesterday. It looked OK on the splits but I lost a bit towards the end. The feeling is better, the car is better, and I just need to avoid those mistakes.”

    His instructions from Volkswagen boss Jost Capito were clear: “If I have a good feeling then challenge Mads, but if I don’t then just get to the finish,” said Latvala.

    Evgeny Novikov was fifth fastest ahead of Henning Solberg. However, Solberg started the stage 27 minutes late after alternator problems on the road section and the time penalty is likely to drop him from eighth to tenth.

    Jari Ketomaa did not restart his Ford Fiesta RS as co-driver Kaj Lindstrom is unwell. Khalid Al Qassimi was another non-starter. The engine of his Citroen DS3 was too badly damaged after he hit a log pile and broke the radiator yesterday afternoon.

    After closing on the WRC 2 lead throughout Saturday’s competition, Fiesta RRC driver Yazeed Al Rajhi finally took the position after a stage win. Long-time leader Anders Grondal dropped 2.7sec behind the Saudi driver after spinning his Subaru Impreza.

    A cautious drive from Sepp Wiegand kept the German secure in third, 3m25.7s behind Grondal.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss17



    ----------------------

    SS18



    ----------------------

    After SS19: Loeb turns up the pressure



    Sebastien Loeb’s determined charge for victory continued on SS18 and SS19 but the Frenchman wasn’t able to worry ice-cool Ogier who takes a 20.7sec rally lead to the final three stages.

    Loeb was fastest on both tests in his Citroen DS3, but Ogier shrugged off the pressure from his former team-mate, conceding a few seconds to remain firmly in control of the rally.

    “It’s not the time to take the maximum risks,’ Ogier said after SS18. “He is pushing hard but we can afford to lose a few seconds. It’s going to plan perfectly.”

    Ogier remained confident despite giving away another couple of seconds on the short Kirkener test when he clipped a snow bank with his Polo R.

    With 43 stage kilometres still to go, Loeb has not given up his fight for a second Rally Sweden victory. “I tried to push and on the first stage it was okay but it was difficult to make much of a difference. This one (SS19) was a really good drive, no mistakes. Is the fight still on? We’ll see.”

    Almost a minute behind the dueling Sebastiens, the thrilling battle for third raged on between Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg and the man just behind him, Jari-Matti Latvala in a Polo R. Ostberg was the quicker driver on SS18, with Latvala ahead on SS19. Neither driver was finding it easy, however.

    “We didn’t have a good start to SS18 but we managed to get back most of the time by the end,” said Ostberg. “I’m not on the limit but I’m not 100 per cent confident. Not a lot happened on the second one but I’m struggling with understeer on the narrow stuff. It’s not easy.”

    Trailing Ostberg by exactly five seconds after SS19, Latvala revealed that he had switched to a completely different car set-up for today’s stages.

    “I felt more confident in Finskogen but I have realised that I need to change my driving style if I’m to win here,” he explained. “My old style is not precise enough. Now I am using the same car set-up as Ogier. It feels a little bit soft but I have to get used to it.

    "Okay, the battle with Mads is still on but on the short stage I lost a couple of seconds in a snow bank so maybe I’ve lost a little too much time now."

    Ford Fiesta RS driver Evgeny Novikov is fifth, 48.4sec behind Latvala, with Thierry Neuville sixth, 2m01s further back.

    In the WRC 2 category daylight is appearing between Yazeed Al Rajhi and Anders Grondal.

    After taking the lead in this morning’s opening stage, Al Rajhi extended it through both Finnskogen and Kirkener. He was 4.8sec faster in the former in his Ford Fiesta RRC and a crushing 12.3sec quicker in Kirkener to move 19.8sec clear.

    However, Al Rajhi breathed a sigh of relief at the end of Kirkener. “I made a mistake and was lucky. I’m driving at my level and using all my experience to fight with people who know these stages very well,” he said.

    Grondal admitted his chances of victory were fading. “It’s starting to look difficult. I’m only losing a few tenths a kilometre so I’ll keep the pressure on. He won’t have a cruise,” said the Subaru Impreza pilot.

    Germany’s Sepp Wiegand remains a distant third in a Skoda Fabia S2000, with Yuriy Protasov fourth in another Impreza.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss19





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    SS20



    ---------------------

    SS21: Ogier pulls clear



    If anyone had any doubts about the outcome of Rally Sweden, they were surely dispelled in the second pass through the heavily-rutted Kirkener and Finnskogen tests.

    In a little over 7km of Kirkener, leader Sebastien Ogier was 3.9sec faster than second-placed Sebastien Loeb to widen his advantage at the head of the leaderboard. And when Loeb made a mistake in Finnskogen, Ogier’s lead had jumped from 20.7sec to 35.4sec.

    The Volkswagen Polo R driver was fastest in Kirkener and second in Finnskogen and said: “When I saw the split was -10sec to Loeb, I completely backed off. I just had to drive and try to avoid mistakes.”

    Loeb admitted his victory hopes had gone. “I went into a snow bank. I made a few mistakes and then I said ‘OK, that’s it’ ”.

    Mads Ostberg tightened his grip on third ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala after tying with the Finn in Kirkener and setting fastest time through Finnskogen in his Ford Fiesta RS.

    “I made some adjustments to the car and the balance immediately felt better. I couldn’t cope with the rear of the car, so I made it stiffer at the rear and softer at the front. I’m more confident and I can push a little harder without making mistakes,” said the Norwegian.

    Latvala was despondent after dropping 3.3sec to Ostberg with third fastest in Finnskogen. “I really tried but I don’t think it’s going to be enough. It seems to be impossible to take that time. I can’t drive at Ogier’s speed. I do not know why. I don’t have an answer,” he said.

    There was drama further down the field as fifth-placed Evgeny Novikov rolled his Ford Fiesta RS in Kirkener and dropped more than 10 minutes, sliding down to ninth.

    “It was a tricky corner,” said the Russian. “It was blind and I came too fast into the bend. It was very narrow and we rolled. It took a long time to get back on the wheels. It was my mistake, I braked too late.”

    That promoted Thierry Neuville to fifth overall on only his second visit to Sweden, the young Belgian surviving two small offs in his Fiesta RS in Kirkener.

    Dani Sordo was another Kirkener casualty. The Spaniard hit a rock buried in a snow bank and retired from eighth place.

    Yazeed Al Rajhi continues to lead the WRC 2 category in his Fiesta RRC from Anders Grondal. The Saudi Arabian is 44.8sec clear of the Norwegian’s Subaru Impreza.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss21



    -----------------------

    SS22: Ogier takes Power Stage win



    Rally Sweden winner Sebastien Ogier ensured a perfect weekend by claiming three bonus points for his 2013 FIA World Rally Championship campaign by winning the Power Stage.

    The 29-year-old Frenchman was fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R by 0.9sec from team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala, who took two extra points.

    The final Power Stage point was collected by Mads Ostberg. The Ford Fiesta RS pilot finished 2.3sec behind Latvala.

    Mikko Hirvonen had a troubled weekend but hoped to gain something from the Power Stage. The Finn, who had been third in the running order, dropped down the start positions for the final stage and had the advantage of better road conditions in his Citroen DS3.

    However, he missed out on points by finishing fourth fastest, 1.7sec behind Ostberg.

    click: wrc.com/news/sweden ss22




    --------------------

    BREAKING NEWS: Ogier wins Rally Sweden




    Sebastien Ogier has taken a sensational victory in Rally Sweden and secured a maiden win for Volkswagens new Polo R World Rally Car on only the manufacturers second event.

    Ogier, 29, dominated the World Rally Championship’s snow and ice round after taking the lead from his fellow Frenchman Sebastien Loeb on Friday morning.

    Loeb, in a Citroen DS3, kept the pressure on his former team-mate right to the end, but eventually had to settle for the runners-up spot, 41.8sec behind Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia.

    Ford Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg was third, the Norwegian finishing 42.7sec adrift of Loeb.



    ...
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    WRC wrap:



    Sebastien Ogier has claimed the first World Championship rally victory for Volkswagen Motorsport following a faultless performance on Rally Sweden, which ended in Karlstad this afternoon.

    The Frenchman secured a maiden win for Volkswagen’s new Polo R World Rally Car on only the German manufacturers second event, three weeks after finishing runner-up on Rallye Monte-Carlo.

    Ogier, 29, dominated the snow and ice event after snatching the lead from nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb on Friday morning. He ended the rally with a flourish, going fastest through the final Power Stage to bag three extra drivers’ championship points and beat Loeb’s Citroen DS3 by a margin of 41.8sec.

    Today’s win was the eighth at World Championship level for Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia and moves the pair into the lead of the 2013 FIA drivers’ championship.

    After kissing his car at the end of the final stage, a jubilant Ogier was quick to pay tribute to his team. “I must thank them because they have given me a perfect car all weekend. I’ve never had a car like that. Unbelievable,” he said.

    “The win here was amazing but also a big surprise. We have spent so much time and effort with the team in preparation - all of last year - but we never expected to have this performance so soon.”

    “It couldn’t be better. This morning Sebastien was putting a lot of pressure on. He was flying into the stages. We tried to follow him without maximum risk but we had to push because he was so fast. To win like that is amazing,” he added.

    Loeb made it a French one-two but was left ruing a poor result on the pre-rally Qualifying Stage that determined the early running order. “We lost a lot because of that I think,” said Loeb. “We didn’t get a good road position, then we changed the car set-up to try and improve things but that led to two mistakes on the first day and the loss of about 30-seconds. Okay, Sebastien Ogier didn’t make any mistakes. He has done the perfect rally. There was nothing more I could do.”

    Mads Ostberg equalled his 2012 Sweden result with third, 42.7sec behind Loeb. The Norwegian’s rally looked to be over on Friday morning when the fluid in his Fiesta’s cooling system drained into the snow. But the 25-year-old survived the scare and went on to beat Latvala in a tense battle for third.

    “I understood quite early that a win wasn’t going to be possible, and since then it’s been a big fight for third,” he said. “It’s been a very up and down rally but I’m pleased to have won the fight with Jari-Matti. It’s a great feeling.”

    After crashing out of Rallye Monte-Carlo, Latvala scored his first points of the year for fourth, a slender 6.1sec adrift of Ostberg. A two-time winner of Rally Sweden, Latvala endured a difficult event as he struggled to get comfortable with the handling of his Polo R.

    “A disappointing event for sure,” he acknowledged. “My driving hasn’t been so great and I have been circling round and round trying to get the right set-up. I haven’t found it yet. But the main thing is to get the points for the team and myself and to work on improvement for Mexico.”

    Read More: wrc.com/news/wrc-wrap


    -------------------------

    WRC 2 wrap:




    Yazeed Al Rajhi took maximum points in the WRC 2 category of Rally Sweden today after demoting overnight leader Anders Grondal to second.

    Al Rajhi, driving a Ford Fiesta RRC, had closed on the WRC 2 lead throughout Saturday’s competition and finally got past Grondal on Sunday’s opening stage.

    The Saudi, co-driven by Michael Orr, went on to win five of the final day’s six stages, pulling further ahead of Grondal to finish with a healthy margin of 43.5sec. The result moves him third in the championship on a total of 25 points.

    “It was a difficult race but I’m delighted because I had only done one snow rally before this one, so I didn't have a lot of experience,” said Al Rajhi.

    “It’s a good result for me, the team, and my co-driver. And of course a great start to my WRC 2 campaign. I’ve learned a lot and I hope to make more improvements step-by-step as the season goes on,” he added.

    Long-time class leader Grondal put up a valiant fight in his older and heavier Group N Subaru Impreza but had no answer to Yazeed’s pace on Sunday. “I’m still satisfied because I think I’ve done the best I can,” said the Norwegian. “This is the fastest I can go in this car, so I’m happy with the set-up, the team and everything. I won Group N, so I’m happy.”

    Read More: wrc.com/news/WRC 2 wrap


    -------------------


    WRC.com Videos


    click: wrc.com/video/


    -------------------

    Next Rnd3 WRC Mexico Mar 7-10




    Mexico hosts the first gravel event, with a couple of exciting new stages for 2013. In total there will be 23 stages over a competitive distance of 397 kilometres. The monster Guanajuatito stage will again be the longest of the rally, increasing in length very slightly to 54.9 kilometres.

    Following the traditional 1.5-kilometre Guanajuato Street Stage in the Mexican city - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - on the evening of Thursday 7 March, crews will also tackle a new 2.16-kilometre test through Guanajuato’s Bicentennial Park, which was built two years ago between the cities of Guanajuato, Leon and Silao to celebrate 200 years of Mexican independence.

    In other changes, the introduction of the new 31 kilometres El Chocolate test on Friday 8 March brings the day’s competitive running to 161 kilometres, while the Derramadero stage has been more than doubled in length to form the event’s Power Stage on Sunday 10 March. Meanwhile, the Leon Street Stage will be included on Friday and Saturday, while the Super Special Stage at Leon’s racing circuit will be pressed into action on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    Official Website: rallymexico.com/en

    Listen Live: wrc.com/fanzone/wrc-live/



    ...
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    ...
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