Ogier leads Rally Sweden

Sebastien Ogier has extended his Rally Sweden lead after his closest challengers Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen hit problems, elevating Hayden Paddon into second place. Ogier had been fastest on all 3 of the morning loop's stages in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC and led from team-mate Mikkelsen. The Frenchman kept his car on the road on SS7's re-run of Svullrya, but Mikkelsen lost the rear of his and hit a tree stump, dropping him to seventh overall.

Britain's Kris Meeke was then the nearest challenger to Ogier having posted the fastest time on SS7 and again at the start of SS8, but then saw his hopes of victory dashed after hitting a rock buried in the road. Ironically, Meeke had also retired from second place on the Monte Carlo Rally after his Citroen DS3 WRC was damaged by a rock.

Ogier's advantage at the end of day one therefore stands at 26.9s from the impressive Paddon; in Hyundai's New Generation i20 WRC, who's snow rally experience heading into the event was limited to two previous Rally Sweden appearances but he was able to escape a five-car scrap for second, building a seven-second lead over third-place Mads Ostberg who was another to impress in the afternoon, as was Estonian Ott Tanak, who continued to perform well with his DMACK tyres just a second further back in fourth. Dani Sordo remains in contention after a consistent run in his i20 allowed him to finish the day in fifth ahead of Mikkelsen.

Henning Solberg holds seventh in his privately-entered Ford Fiesta, having enjoyed a day-long battle with Craig Breen. Making his bow in factory WRC machinery, Irishman Breen had a steady start to the day but shone on SS7 where he set the third-fastest time. Jari-Matti Latvala had a torrid day in the third Volkswagen Polo and eventually stopped on Friday's final stage with a suspected suspension issue, the Finn having incurred a broken driveshaft on the morning's opening stage. Thierry Neuville picked up a similar problem on SS4 and is over three minutes behind 10th-placed Lorenzo Bertelli.

In WRC2, Elfyn Evans recaptured the lead after a combination of impressive pace and troubles for his rivals. Early leader Fredrik Ahlin relinquished the lead after his throttle stuck on SS7 and now trails the Briton by 17.1s, while Pontus Tidemand ended the day fourth despite suffering driveshaft issues.

12th February, 2016