Rally Sweden Latest

Uncharacteristically warm weather could threaten some of the stages at this weekend's WRC round - Rally Sweden and recce plans for crews to drive the early Karlstad spectator stage in their rally cars were shelved and crews used recce cars, fitted with smaller studs that were likely to cause less damage to the road.

The temperature has been above zero for the last two days at the rally's base town, with today's average being around six degrees meaning that hopes of overnight snow were fading, but tomorrow's stages in Norway are located further north and at higher altitude and thus likely to be in better condition.

On tonight's curtain-raising superspecial stage, World Rally Championship-2 driver Pontus Tidemand was sensationally the pacesetter on the opening stage. The talented Swede was up against fellow WRC-2 runner Anders Grondal in the opening heat on the 1.9 kilometre two-lane stage.

Citroen's Mads Ostberg came closest to toppling Ford driver Tidemand, falling 0.3 seconds short of the stage win in the final heat, but beating his adversary Sebastien Ogier by 0.8s. Ogier's fellow Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest, a tenth slower than Ostberg, after edging out the Norwegian's team-mate Kris Meeke by 2.2s in their heat.

Thierry Neuville was the best of the Hyundais in fourth, 0.6s adrift of Tidemand but easily beating M-Sport's Elfyn Evans in his heat. Andreas Mikkelsen and Ott Tanak completed the top six after overcoming Henning Solberg and Robert Kubica in their respective heats. Reigning WRC Champion and 2015 leader Ogier's time was only good enough for seventh quickest, while Kubica's untidy run through the superspecial stage restricted the Pole to eighth.

12th February, 2015