WRC'14 Rally Sweden Feb 5-8 talk/results spoiler **
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    Cool WRC'14 Rally Sweden Feb 5-8 talk/results spoiler **

    Next Rnd 2 - Sweden Feb 5-8



    What’s new for 2014

    Due to a clash with the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the rally runs from Wednesday to Saturday.
    Stages in Norway will be held during the first leg rather than the last day as in 2013.

    Sweden More Info: wrc.com/en/wrc/calendar/sweden

    Official Website: rallysweden.com/en/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/live_popup_radio


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    Citroen's Mads Ostberg set the top time this morning the shakedown for Rally Sweden, the second round in the 2014 World Rally Championship.

    Ostberg, who is hoping to fight for the victory on his 'home' event, completed the 3.99 km Rada test in 1 minute 55.8 seconds, which put him 0.4 seconds up on Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala.

    Kris Meeke meanwhile came in third, despite going off on his second run. His mechanics, however, were able to fix his Citroen DS3 WRC and he duly posted a 1m 56.6s effort next time out.

    Henning Solberg was next up in fourth, with Thierry Neuville, Craig Breen, Juho Hanninen and former F1 pilot, Robert Kubica in positions 5 through to 8.

    Sebastien Ogier was only tenth, while Mikko Hirvonen finished down in 16th – although most of the runners opted to save their studded tyres as much of the snow has melted and it is relatively warm.

    “I'm sorry for the spectators, but we want our tyres for the rally proper,” Hirvonen told rally-magazin.de.

    “I wanted to go in first [in the shakedown] to see the conditions that will await me tomorrow and I set my best time then, so it is rather positive. Then we drove slower [on the subsequent runs] to save the tyres. This rally looks very complicated [due to the weather],” Ogier added according to best-of-rallylive.com.


    Rally Sweden: Shakedown (Top 10):

    1. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 1m 55.8s M
    2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1m 56.2s M
    3. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 1m 56.6s M
    4. Henning Solberg Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1m 57.2s
    5. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 1m 58.0s M
    6. Craig Breen Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1m 58.4s
    7. Juho Hanninen Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 1m 59.9s M
    8. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 01.4s M
    9. Pontus Tidemand Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 02.8s
    10. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 03.1s M

    Others

    11. Ott Tanak M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 03.7s
    12. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 06.4s M
    14. Khalid Al-Qassimi Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 2m 11.2s M
    15. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 13.8s M
    16. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 23.9s M
    17. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 2m 24.9s M

    times courtesy of rallye-magazin.de

    click: crash.net/wrc/news/rally-sweden-shakedown

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    Andreas Mikkelsen showed his more senior Volkswagen team-mates the way forward when he raced to fastest time in tonight’s opening super special at Rally Sweden in Karlstad.



    The young Norwegian was fastest in his Polo R by 0.8sec from colleague Sebastien Ogier around the jumps and sweeping hairpins of the town’s trotting track.

    “I was a bit rusty with my driving for the first couple of corners because I haven’t tested in the snow since December. But I had a clean run and it’s a great way to start the rally,” he said.

    A remarkable third fastest was Estonia’s Ott Tanak, returning to the sport’s top level after a year away. He was 2.2sec behind Mikkelsen in his Ford Fiesta RS, with Jari-Matti Latvala’s Polo R and Mikko Hirvonen’s Fiesta RS completing the top five.

    In WRC 2, Anders Grondal was fastest in a Subaru Impreza. The Norwegian was 0.2sec quicker than pre-event favourite Jari Ketomaa.

    The rally restarts tomorrow (Thursday) from Karlstad at 08.20. Ahead lie six stages in Sweden and Norway covering 60.12km. The first stage, Torsby, starts at 10.54.

    click: wrc.com/en/wrc/news/sweden-super-special



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    Thursday

    SS2: Ogier takes the lead


    Sebastien Ogier began Thursday’s competition strongly, going fastest by 2.6sec on the opening stage, to topple his Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen from his overnight position as rally leader.

    After a light dusting of snow overnight, conditions were super slippery on the 7.03m Torsby section, but Ogier felt he had been too cautious. “There were perhaps two centimetres of loose snow on top, but I could have pushed a bit more – especially at the end,” he said. “Not a perfect start, but not bad.”

    After an early retirement from Rallye Monte-Carlo, Martin Prokop’s luck showed no sign of changing. The Czech driver dropped more than three minutes when his Fiesta RS WRC slithered off the road and into a ditch. “Luckily there were some spectators around to help us back on the road, but a lot of others were more interested in filming us with their phones,” he said.

    On his first event in a World Rally Car Craig Breen was also in trouble. “We have a misfire after changing gear, it sounds like the engine is cutting out briefly with each shift,” he explained. “I also had to change my crash helmet last night and this one is moving all over the place.”

    SS2 Overall


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

    SS3: Frustration for Latvala

    Volkswagen drivers dominated Thursday’s short second stage, with Ogier the winner by a massive 5.7sec and Mikkelsen and Latvala second and third fastest.

    Latvala arrived at the finish control shaking his head, extremely frustrated at being 6.6sec slower than Ogier over the 7.6km stage. “My driving is bad,” he said. “I don’t like the gearbox in the car, it is very difficult to change gears here. But that doesn’t explain Ogier’s time. It’s incredible.”



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

    SS4:

    After a pair of short and technical stages, the 16.82km Finnskogen was the first opportunity of the day for drivers to really stretch their legs. It was in Norway too – a fact not lost on local heroes Andreas Mikkelsen and Henning Solberg who dug deep to set a Norwegian one-two, setting first and second fastest times respectively.

    “I really enjoyed that one,” said a delighted Mikkelsen. “I remember driving it before in a Group N car and I’m really happy with how it felt this time.”

    Solberg felt his time was helped by some pre-stage set-up changes to his Fiesta RS WRC. “I’m not saying what I did, because all the other Fiesta drivers will copy me,” he explained.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest and feeling far happier than after SS2. "When it's fast and flowing I have a great feeling to drive, but I'm not doing so well on the technical stages," he said.



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

    SS5: Tanak is back!

    After more than a year away from the WRC, Ott Tanak posted fastest time on the second pass through Kirkener - only his fifth stage back at the top level.

    The Estonian was quickest by 0.5sec in a Ford Fiesta RS, depriving Thierry Neuville of what looked as if it was going to be Hyundai’s first stage win for the new i20 car.

    “We did some very small mistakes but I have such a good feeling. I'm just getting going!” promised Tanak.

    Andreas Mikkelsen maintained the pressure on Volkswagen colleague Sebastien Ogier at the head of the leaderboard with third fastest time, 1.4sec further back. He narrowed the gap to just 0.5sec and there could have been a change of leader had Mikkelsen not made a slight error.

    “I went wide into a corner and it dragged the front of the car into the loose stuff. My mistake,” he admitted.



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

    SS6: Mikkelsen back in the lead

    Andreas Mikkelsen, who led after last night’s opening super special stage, regained top spot when he was quickest through the second pass of the 16.82km Finnskogen test.

    The Norwegian was 0.7sec faster than Volkswagen colleague Sebastien Ogier to move into a 0.2sec advantage. His motivation? “When you see so many Norwegians cheering you on, you want to do well!” he said.

    Ogier was first through the stage and predicted his own demise. “I think Andreas is going to be faster. The [driving] lines are not so good for me. The cars that last drove the stage are not World Rally Cars and I lost the rear of the car a few times."

    Jari-Matti Latvala was third fastest despite nudging a snow bank, 1.0sec behind Ogier, and that was sufficient to preserve Volkswagen’s domination of the top three.



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

    End of Day SS7: Ogier back in front

    Sebastien Ogier regained the lead in today’s final stage as Volkswagen colleague Andreas Mikkelsen ceded his advantage to save tyres.

    Ogier was fastest through the second pass of Torsby by 1.5sec from Mads Ostberg, but it was Mikkelsen’s performance and comments which raised eyebrows. The Norwegian was sixth, dropping six seconds to Ogier to end the leg 5.8sec adrift.

    “We could have chosen to take new tyres now, but then we would have used tyres tomorrow morning. I preferred to lose time here and have new tyres in the morning. It would have been nice to fight for the lead overnight but it’s a long rally and that’s what we must think about,” he said.

    Ott Tanak, probably the driver of the day, was third in the stage and he overnights just 2.6sec behind third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala. Another good performance came from Kris Meeke, who was fourth fastest.



    click: wrc.com/news/sweden-thursday

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    Friday
    SS8: Ogier and Neuville in trouble


    Big dramas in the opening 15.00km Lesjöfors stage when both Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville hit problems.

    Ogier planted his Volkswagen Polo R into a snow bank in a slow corner 3km from the finish. “I missed a little bit the entry point. I wasn’t concentrating. I wanted to push, it was a stupid mistake,” he said.

    Ogier dropped 4min 30sec and his chances of points are slim. “I’ll do my best now. I don’t know what is possible but I guess it will be hard.”

    Neuville parked his Hyundai by the side of the road 9.5km after the start with what his team described as a damaged wheel carrier on the front right. After working on the car for more than 25 minutes, Neuville restarted but stopped again soon after. He eventually got his car to the end but with the loss of 41 minutes.

    Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest by 5.8sec from Volkswagen colleague Andreas Mikkelsen to close the gap in the overall standings to just six-tenths of a second.

    “It’s a big day,” said Latvala. “Conditions are more demanding than yesterday. It’s soft and there’s a lot of snow at the side of the ruts, so we really need to keep the car in the tracks.”

    Ott Tanak spun his Ford Fiesta RS near the finish in a narrow section. It took the Estonian considerable time to manoeuvre his car back in the right direction and he dropped to fifth behind Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen in the standings.



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

    SS9: Mikkelsen fights back

    After watching Jari-Matti Latvala almost wipe out his advantage in this morning’s opening stage, Andreas Mikkelsen reasserted his authority on Rally Sweden by widening his lead in the classic Fredriksberg test.

    The Norwegian was second fastest in his Volkswagen Polo R, 2.8sec behind team-mate Sébastien Ogier. But, more importantly, he was 2.7sec quicker than Latvala to open the gap to 3.3sec overall.

    “We fitted new tyres and it was the right choice,” said Mikkelsen. “We’ll see how much we used them but this rally is all about tyres. I’m trying to balance my speed. Before I have been too eager in this situation and made mistakes but now I want to control it more. There’s still room for improvement, but then you start taking risks.”

    Latvala is relishing the battle. “It’s a very good fight at the moment and I’m enjoying it. The car feels good but Andreas is pushing hard and is doing a very good job. He has the young spirit!” said the Finn.

    The three-car battle for third continued unabated. Fourth fastest time for Mads Ostberg enabled him to widen his advantage over Mikko Hirvonen to 1.6sec, but Ott Tanak is only 2.5sec further back.

    The day is over for Thierry Neuville. After hitting a rock and damaging the front right hub assembly on his Hyundai i20 in the previous test, he eventually emerged from the stage but the damage was too great to continue.



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

    SS10: Latvala leads

    Jari-Matti Latvala moved into the lead of Rally Sweden in the Rämmen stage when Andreas Mikkelsen dropped time after sliding into a ditch near the finish.

    Mikkelsen ceded five seconds to his Volkswagen colleague and admitted he was fortunate to escape so lightly. “We went out in a ditch in fourth or fifth gear and filled the front of the car with snow. We’re lucky we got out of there to be honest. We were keeping up with Jari-Matti until then,” said the Norwegian.

    Latvala moved ahead by 1.8sec but the Finn also found the stage tough. “I pushed a lot. At the start there was a lot of snow and I had a good feeling. The stage then climbed the mountain and there were some long corners where I was loading the rear tyres. They overheated and then I was struggling a little,” he explained.

    Sébastien Ogier set fastest time in his Polo R while Mads Ostberg consolidated third place in his Citroen DS3, extending his advantage over Mikko Hirvonen’s Fiesta RS to 7.4sec.



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

    Overall SS11:



    Friday Midday

    Jari-Matti Latvala leads Rally Sweden by 1.6sec after a topsy-turvy morning which saw three drivers top the leaderboard.

    Sébastien Ogier led the field into the opening Lesjofors test, but a moment’s lack of concentration ended with his Volkswagen Polo R buried in a snow bank. Four minutes and 30 seconds passed before he got out again and Andreas Mikkelsen was in the lead.

    The Norwegian stayed on top through the classic Fredriksberg, but it was his turn to sample the snow in Rämmen. He visited a ditch at high speed and although the time loss was only a handful of seconds, it was enough to allow Latvala to move ahead. He arrived at the Hagfors service with a 1.6sec lead over Mikkelsen.

    Mads Ostberg and Mikko Hirvonen were tied for position overnight. Ostberg had the best of the morning and lies 7.2sec ahead of the Finn, with Ott Tanak dropping behind both after a tough day. A spin and pace note issues hampered the Estonian.

    Juho Hanninen holds sixth but he is the sole surviving Hyundai. Thierry Neuville hit a rock in the opening stage and damaged the wheel hub assembly of his i20. He eventually emerged from the stage but the damage was too great to continue.

    Pontus Tidemand, Kris Meeke, Henning Solberg and Robert Kubica complete the leaderboard with Ogier now 13th.

    wrc.com/news/friday-midday

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    SS12: Trouble for Kubica and Hanninen

    Robert Kubica and Juho Hanninen both hit problems as the afternoon began with a second pass through the 15.00km Lesjofors stage.

    First to suffer was Kubica, the Pole piling into a snowbank after a crest early in the stage. It took 10 minutes to rescue the Ford Fiesta RS from the white stuff and his place in the top 10 leaderboard has gone.

    Hanninen came to a halt in the second part of the test with a damaged front wheel on his Hyundai i20. It is not known what happened but it spells the end of Hyundai’s interest in the day following the retirement of Thierry Neuville in the first pass through the stage this morning.

    There was also concern in the cockpit of second-placed Andreas Mikkelsen. His Volkswagen Polo R finished with the radiator packed full of snow. Warning lights showed the water temperature soaring and the the Norwegian headed off quickly to take a look.



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

    SS13:



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

    SS14: Kubica off road again

    Robert Kubica’s attempts to come to grips with his first proper snow rally took another setback in the final country test of today’s second leg when he plunged into a snowbank for the second time in three stages.

    Having planted his Ford Fiesta RS in the snow and dropping 10 minutes in Lesjofors, the Pole’s vertical learning curve took another step when he did exactly the same near the finish of the 22.76km Rämmen.

    “I lost the rear of the car and the snowbank was soft and it pulled us in. It has been a very bad afternoon. I made two mistakes, I was a bit unlucky, but that’s how it is. When you touch snowbanks it’s very easy that they pull you in. Thanks to spectators we are back, and I hope tomorrow will be better,” said Kubica.

    Mads Ostberg almost became involved in Kubica’s incident. As spectators worked furiously to dig the Fiesta RS out of the snow, the Norwegian flashed by, just missing fans and car. “That was incredibly close,” said Ostberg.



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

    SS15:



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

    SS16:



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

    Friday Wrap:

    Jari-Matti Latvala holds a narrow advantage after a dramatic third day of Rally Sweden in which all three Volkswagen drivers topped the standings.

    The Finn is 3.6sec clear of colleague Andreas Mikkelsen with one day remaining in this second round of the WRC. Third is Mads Ostberg, the Citroen DS3 pilot 39.4sec behind his fellow Norwegian.

    Most of the drama came during a topsy-turvy morning. A moment’s lack of concentration saw overnight leader Sébastien Ogier bury his Polo R into a snowbank in the opening stage. Four minutes and 30 seconds passed before he emerged and Mikkelsen led.

    Two stages later Mikkelsen dropped his car into a ditch at high speed. Although he lost only a handful of seconds, it was enough for Latvala to move ahead. His lead reached 10sec, but his speed wore his tyres and he lost much of his advantage limping through the final two short tests on well-used rubber.

    “My tyres were finished and I Iost a lot of time in such a short stage,” said Latvala. “It wasn’t a good feeling but I saved tyres yesterday so I have good rubber for the final day tomorrow. Everything is going in the right direction but I need to be really focused for the final leg.”

    Mikkelsen admitted he had mixed thoughts. “We drove quite fast while avoiding all the rocks. We could have gone faster and tried to catch Jari-Matti but then you have to take risks. I have never been on the podium before in my life so it would be a nice experience, but at the same time I want to fight for the win,” he said.

    After being tied overnight, Ostberg edged clear of Mikko Hirvonen and is 19.7sec ahead of the Finn’s Ford Fiesta RS.

    Hirvonen slipped behind Ott Tank this afternoon after being held up by Robert Kubica, but he regained fourth and is 6.0sec ahead of the Estonian. Tanak had a tough morning with a spin and pace note problems, but enjoyed a better afternoon.

    read more: wrc.com/sweden-friday-wrap/

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    Saturday
    SS17: Latvala reaches 300


    Leader Jari-Matti Latvala was fastest out of the blocks in the 11.32km Hara test this morning to win the opening test and take his 300th WRC stage win. In doing so, he stretched his advantage at the head of the leaderboard to 7.5sec over team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.

    But it wasn’t all plain-sailing for the Finn. Mikkelsen was fastest at the mid-stage split by almost a second and Latvala had to turn up the gas in the second half to overturn the deficit and complete 3.9sec ahead of Mikkelsen – his 36th stage victory for Volkswagen.

    “It was a bit stressful when we heard the split time,” admitted Latvala.

    Elsewhere, Henning Solberg maintained his upward progress by moving ahead of Pontus Tidemand into seventh. His next target is Kris Meeke and the gap between the duo is only 8.4sec.



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

    SS18: Mikkelsen in trouble

    Andreas Mikkelsen’s hopes of a maiden WRC victory at Rally Sweden appear to be over after the Norwegian went off the road into a snowbank.

    Mikkelsen was in pursuit of leader Jari-Matti Latvala when he buried the front of his Volkswagen Polo R into the snow near the end of the 19.26km Torntorp stage. He lost 25.7sec to his team-mate and the Finn’s advantage at the top of the leaderboard is now 33.7sec.

    Mikkelsen was too pre-occupied to comment but co-driver Mikko Markkula confirmed that he didn’t think there would be any serious issues as he scooped handfuls of snow from the radiator intake.

    Also in the snow was Kris Meeke. “The front of the car got sucked into a snow bank. My inside wheels pulled us in. There were very few spectators, eventually we dug it out,” explained the Northern Ireland driver who lost seven minutes and dropped to 14th.



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

    SS19:



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

    SS20: Kubica goes off

    Robert Kubica’s difficult Rally Sweden took another turn for the worse when he slid into a ditch early in the 15.87km Värmullsåsen test.

    With the live TV cameras focused on the Pole as he opened the stage, Kubica drifted wide in a left corner and his Fiesta RS came to a halt in the snow. Spectators came to the rescue, manhandling the car back on the road with the loss of four minutes.

    “We just understeered into the corner. The pace note was wrong. The car’s OK, we just need a new windscreen,” said Kubica, whose Fiesta also suffered front end damage.




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

    SS21: Cancelled

    The organisers of Rally Sweden have decided to cancel SS21, the repeat-run through the 11.32 kilometre Hara test.

    The decision was taken due to the delay on SS20 and due to live TV coverage of SS24, the final test.

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

    SS22: Prokop in the snow

    Martin Prokop is the latest victim of the snowbanks which have trapped so many drivers during Rally Sweden.

    The Czech driver went off the road 13.30km into the 19.26km Torntorp test and his Ford Fiesta RS became firmly stuck in the snow. It’s the second time he has visited the white stuff, having also gone off in Thursday’s opening stage (pictured).

    Following drivers reported that the location where they left the road was remote and there were no spectators around to help. Co-driver Jan Tomanek is standing alongside the road warning following crews about the stranded car while Prokop is furiously shovelling snow.

    All to no avail at the moment.......

    Meanwhile Yazeed Al Rajhi has lost the lead of the WRC 2 support category. The Saudi Arabian driver spun his Ford Fiesta RRC and became stuck in the snow. He dropped more than a minute and Finn Jari Ketomaa now leads by 1.1sec with two stages remaining.



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

    SS23: Ogier v Solberg

    World champion Sebastien Ogier finally edged ahead of Henning Solberg for sixth in the penultimate 24.63km Vargåsen stage, but the battle will go down to the final test as the gap between the pair is just one-tenth of a second.

    But Henning is not giving up on sixth just yet. “Ogier is faster so I have to respect that, but everything can happen in the Power Stage,” said Solberg.

    Thierry Neuville had a late scare after puncturing a front tyre on his Hyundai i20. The Belgian stopped early in the test to replace it and rejoined the action just behind Yazeed Al Rajhi after losing 2min 30sec.

    Talking of Al Rajhi, his efforts to catch Jari Ketomaa and regain the WRC 2 lead appear to have ended in tears. The Saudi Arabian driver rolled his Fiesta RRC just after Colin’s Crest and dropped two minutes to his rival. So having lost the lead in the previous stage, he’s now down to third after also slipping behind Karl Kruuda.



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

    SS24: Power Stage

    Jari-Matti Latvala won his third Rally Sweden today when he led home Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen by 53.6sec.

    Latvala took the lead yesterday in his Polo R but could only relax when Mikkelsen dropped time after sliding into a snowbank this morning. The Finn now heads the WRC standings after round two of 13.

    Third was Mads Ostberg in a Citroen DS3, a further 5.9sec behind.

    Ostberg claimed three bonus points by claiming fastest time through the final Power Stage. Latvala took two points and Mikko Hirvonen one.



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

    Next Rnd 3 - WRC Mexico Mar 6-9




    What’s new for 2014

    The long stages have become even longer. Each leg contains a marathon test covering 44.03km, 53.69km and 55.92km respectively. The long stages in legs 1 and 2 are used twice.
    While the single service park remains at León’s Poliforum, cars will be serviced outdoors rather inside the huge exhibition hall.
    The service park is based in the area previously used for a street stage, which will not be run.


    more info: wrc.com/en/wrc/calendar/mexico-2014/

    Official Website: rallymexico.com/

    Listen Live: wrc.com/live_popup_radio


    ....
    ScoobyDMC #000,HawkEyeAlliance#000,Blobeye Syndicate #000, SQC-NY #009, "Dragon Slayer"
    "All We'll Drive"

    I <3 boobies: rallyarmor/keepabreast/mud flaps limited edition

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