FIA World Rally Championship

Latvala Leads In Sweden, Loeb Hits Trouble

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Jari-Matti Latvala (Photo Credit: World Rally Pics)

Jari-Matti Latvala (Photo Credit: World Rally Pics)

Jari-Matti Latvala leads Rally Sweden for Ford at the end of the first proper day of action, 16.8 seconds ahead of former teammate Mikko Hirvonen – now in the colours of Citroen. Meanwhile, the French team's number one driver Sebastien Loeb lost two minutes in a snow bank and is down in seventh overall.

Dani Sordo had lead in his Mini following the rally-opening superspecial on Thursday evening, but it was Mads Ostberg – the surprise package of last year's Rally Sweden – who took the lead on the first proper stage this morning.

The Adapta Ford driver didn't remain ahead of long though, with factory driver Latvala taking the rally lead on SS3 as Ostberg fell to fourth. Ostberg's fellow Norwegian Petter Solberg had joined teammate Latvala in second place, with Hirvonen fourth.

Two stage wins for Hirvonen put him in the lead after SS5, ahead of Latvala, Ostberg, Sebastien Loeb and Solberg, who fell down the order with a spin. Loeb took his second stage win on SS6 to take third from Ostberg and move to within seven seconds of Hirvonen's lead. However, the Frenchman got stuck in a snowbank early in the following stage, and lost two minutes trying to extricate his DS3.

The next stage, SS8, saw Latvala move back into the lead at the expense of Hirvonen. Jari-Matti then set about extending his lead over the two remaining stages, finishing the day with 16.8s in hand over fellow Finn Hirvonen. Solberg is just 1.8 seconds adrift of Hirvonen in third, having dispatched of Ostberg, who complained of brake issues.

Loeb's drama leaves Evgeny Novikov as the top non-Scandinavian in his M-Sport Fiesta in fifth overall, the young Russian following on from his impressive performance in Monte Carlo. Henning Solberg is next up in his Go Fast-sponsored Ford, 20 seconds clear of Loeb.

Patrik Sandell is the best-placed of the Mini drivers in the second of the Prodrive-entered cars, after Sordo was forced to retire the sister car with engine failure. Martin Prokop holds ninth in his Ford, ahead of the similar machine of Eyvind Brynildsen – the Norwegian making his World Rally Car debut with the Adapta team.

The Volkswagen Motorsport-entered S2000 Fabias of Sebastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen lie just outside the top ten in a battle of their own, with Per-Gunnar Andersson leading the S-WRC category in 13th overall with two minutes over nearest rival Craig Breen.

Top ten overall after SS10:

Pos No Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1. 3 Jari-Matti Latvala Ford Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1:23:50.8
2. 2 Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Citroen DS3 WRC +16.8
3. 4 Petter Solberg Ford Ford Fiesta RS WRC +18.6
4. 15 Mads Østberg Adapta Ford Fiesta RS WRC +32.3
5. 6 Evgeny Novikov M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1:12.1
6. 10 Henning Solberg Go Fast Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1:48.5
7. 1 Sebastien Loeb Citroen Total Citroen DS3 WRC +2:08.9
8. 52 Patrik Sandell Mini Mini John Cooper Works WRC +2:18.8
9. 21 Martin Prokop Czech Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2:26.9
10. 64 Eyvind Brynildsen Adapta Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2:59.8
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