Dani Sordo got Mini’s WRC debut on snow off to a good start, after going fastest in the short sprint through this evening’s Karlstad superspecial stage.
The Spaniard edged out season debutant Mads Ostberg‘s Adapta Ford by just three tenths, but is aware the coming days will present a much tougher challenge.
“The stage was really, really nice,” he said. “We are happy now but it was just a short stage and tomorrow is going to be a long day.”
Rounding out the top three was a second Fiesta RS, Ott Tanak‘s points nominated M-Sport Ford. Fourth was where the serious rally contenders began to appear, with Sebastien Loeb leading the Reds vs Blues battle only 1.2 seconds down on stage winner Sordo. Petter Solberg posted an identical time to Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen finished three tenths down on the duo and the second Ford of Jari-Matti Latvala would finish exactly one second down on the reigning world champion.
With Solberg starting the first full day of action level with championship rival Loeb, and the rally route crossing over into his native Norway, the works Ford driver was looking forward to the stages to come.
“That was a fantastic start,” he said. “I am really, really pleased with that! I’m very excited for the rally moving to Norway tomorrow. It’s going to be an amazing atmosphere with my home fans!”
Martin Prokop finished 9th in his customer Fiesta, sandwiched by two Minis at the hands of local drivers. Patrik Sandell is racing with the Prodrive World Rally Team, replacing Pierre Campana in the second car alongside Sordo. Behind Prokop was multiple Swedish Touring Car Champion Richard Goransson, who has the same WRC-spec Mini Countryman as fellow Swede Sandell. He was 3.7 seconds off the pace set by Sordo, an impressive time considering he beat the far more experienced rally regulars Evgeny Novikov and Henning Solberg to break into the Top 10.
The SWRC immediately saw a reversal of fortunes from the last round at Monte Carlo – Per-Gunnar Andersson entertained the home crowd by coming first in class, after his Proton Satria Neo caught fire and robbed him of an almost certain victory at the previous event. Craig Breen inherited the win from Andersson that week, but this time it was he who would suffer bad luck, picking up a puncture which consigned him to only sixth fastest in class, 9.2 seconds down on Andersson.
Hayden Paddon, the highly rated New Zealander, started his first WRC event of the season by coming second in SWRC, splitting the works Protons. It was Alister McRae‘s turn to drive the second Satria Neo S2000 this weekend, and he finished the opening superspecial two tenths down on Paddon’s Skoda Fabia.
|1.||37||Dani Sordo||Prodrive Mini||1:34.2||0.0|
|2.||15||Mads Ã˜stberg||Adapta Ford||1:34.5||+0.3|
|3.||5||Ott Tanak||M-Sport Ford||1:34.8||+0.6|
|5.||4||Petter Solberg||Ford WRT||1:35.4||+1.2|
|7.||3||Jari-Matti Latvala||Ford WRT||1:36.4||+2.2|
|8.||52||Patrik Sandell||Prodrive Mini||1:37.2||+3.0|
|9.||21||Martin Prokop||Czech Ford||1:37.3||+3.1|
|10.||19||Richard Goransson||Goransson Mini||1:37.9||+3.7|