Driving on Winter studded tyres on gravel isn’t the most ideal of circumstances for the FIA World Rally Championship’s Rally Sweden’s four stages today, but every WRC crew faces that same tyre/grip dilemma.
In SS2 (remember, SS1 was cancelled), it was Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Gazoo Racing) quickest over the Hof-Finnskog 1 stage of 21.26km. With snow covering most of this stage, grip was changeable to make for tricky driving.
The Welshman commented: “It was okay; in some places I struggled and braked a bit too early. The grip was still quite changeable.”
Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT) claimed second fastest, 1.1 seconds adrift of Evans. 19-year-old Toyota Gazoo Racing hotshot Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen set the third fastest time just 2.0 seconds behind.
Each WRC crew bemoaned loss of grip in the latter part of the stage, with icy sections making the going even more tricky with less studs on the tyres.
First on the road was Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT), claiming fifth fastest and said: “It was okay in this one but I think the other stages will be more tricky. The grip is changing and I struggled with understeer so I couldn’t carry the speed into the corners.”
We have three more stages to run today. After yesterday’s Shakedown stage, in which Toyota Gazoo Racing occupied the top three positions with Kalle Rovanperä fastest, Sebastien Ogier second quickest and Elfyn Evans in third place, it was Craig Breen in fourth in the Hyundai Shell Mobis i20 Coupe WRC followed by reigning WRC champion Ott Tanak, and Toyota’s fourth driver Takamoto Katsuta in fifth and sixth places respectively. Teemu Suninen (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team), Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Shell Mobis), privately-entered Jari-Matti Latvala in a Toyota Yaris WRC, and Esapekka Lappi (M-Sport Ford World Rally Team) rounded out the top ten in Shakedown.
The running order through today’s stages is: Neuville; Ogier; Evans; Lappi; Rovanperä; Suninen; Katsuta; Tänak; Latvala; and, Breen.
SS3 will start at 10:08 local time for a 20.68km blast on the Finnskoggen 1 stage.
Top Ten after SS2:
01) E. Evans (Toyota Yaris WRC) – 09m 43.9s.
02) O. Tänak (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +1.1s
03) K. Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.0s
04) S. Ogier (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.9s
05) T. Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +4.4s
06) E. Lappi (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +6.3s
07) T. Suninen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8.2s
08) C. Breen (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +9.4s
09) J-M. Latvala (Toyota Yaris WRC) +11.9s
10) T. Katsuta (Toyota Yaris WRC) +13.1s