2019 Rally Sweden: Tänak in Charge at the Top

by Steven Batey

Ott Tänak has a 54.5 seconds lead over both Esapekka Lappi and Andreas Mikkelsen going into the final three stages of Rally Sweden.

After getting the better of Teemu Suninen on the first stage of the day, Tänak’s lead was drastically increased on Hagfors 1 after the M-Sport Ford driver hit a snow bank and dropped over 90 seconds in lost time before the Estonian won three stages on Saturday afternoon.

Things later got worse for the Finnish driver as a crash with a tree on stage 14 damaged the roll cage of the Ford Fiesta WRC and he had to retire from the remaining two stages. He will however restart tomorrow.

Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Lappi and Mikkelsen go into the final day tied on times after a close fight between four drivers on Saturday with Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans also part of the battle.  All four drivers switched positions during the day, but it’s the Citroen Total Racing man who leads the charge for second with three stages to go.

Neuville, as well as Mikkelsen, got away with a spin that only cost each driver a handful of seconds and the Belgian is 2.3 second behind second placed Lappi with Evans a further 11.9 seconds adrift as he complained of oversteering problems.

Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Rounding out the top six is the second Toyota of Kris Meeke, with the Irishman holding off the charging Sebastien Loeb who is just 1.6 seconds behind in the Hyundai Shell Mobis i20 Coupe WRC and began to find more speed late on Saturday after difficulties with his pace notes hindered his performance early on.

Rally Sweden continues to be a weekend to forget for Jari-Matti Latvala as although he restarted this morning, he went off the road again on stage 14 and dropped yet more time, while Sebastien Ogier won three of the days stages before opting to deliberately start stage 12 late so that he didn’t have to be at the front of the road order for the rest of the day.

Ole Christian Veiby has a 12 seconds lead over Jari Huttunen in WRC2, as fellow Volkswagen Polo driver Johan Kristofferson hit a snowbank on stage 10 after lying second coming into Saturday.

Huttunen is a man to watch tomorrow as he’s gradually slimmed Veiby’s lead in the class throughout Saturday and Emil Lindholm completes the top three in class over a minute behind.

Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

WRC2 PRO sees Mads Østberg continue to lead Kalle Rovanperä, with the Norwegian having a huge three-minute lead. Although the young Finn won seven of the eight stages on Saturday, he was another man to hit a snow bank and he is now 58.1 seconds ahead of Gus Greensmith, with the Brit suffering a driveshaft breakage and power steering failure in the Ford Fiesta R5.

The FIA Junior WRC has a new leader at the end of Saturday as Dennis Rådström crashed out of his home event on stage 13, letting fellow Swede Tom Kristensson inherit the lead with three stages remaining. He has an almost two-minute lead over Roland Poom in second with Jan Solans a further two minutes behind in third.

The final three stages of Rally Sweden total 51km including the Torsby 2 Power Stage which takes place early on Sunday afternoon.

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