When Rally Sweden got underway on Friday, Craig Breen was the man of the day.
The Irishman drove home three of the five stages and is in the lead in the summary, 2.6 seconds ahead of Ott Tänak.
- It´s one of my most robust days. Last year I was either upside down or stuck in the snowbanks somewhere. So today, it is like sweet music to my ears to be in the lead, stated the Hyundai driver.
When Rally Sweden opened on Friday, there were various surfaces on offer, with loose surfaces as well as icy and rock hard.
However, Umeå’s winter landscape shows itself from its best side, and Friday’s sections offered lovely expanses of snow in the sunny but slightly windy weather.
Breen picked up victories at Brattby S 2 and 5 and Sarsjöliden SS 6.
It gives him a specific advantage, even if it is hardly possible to make any mistakes, before Saturday’s seven stages, which involve new challenges at places such as Norrby and Västervik.
The Hyundai driver only has a margin of 2.6 seconds on Ott Tänak, as a newcomer to the M-sport team, drove his Ford Puma safely throughout Friday and was saluted with a stage win at Botsmark SS 7, a paltry nine-tenths ahead of Esa-Pekka Lappi and 4.1 seconds ahead of Craig Breen.
Tänak nevertheless stated that the tires were worn out and that he had to struggle to get through the Wind Power Park in Svartliden.
Last year’s Rally Sweden winner Kalle Rovanperä has had to track a lot with his start number and has not been able to flow like the previous year. He is now 31.1 seconds behind Breen in fifth place.
The WRC 2 class has Oliver Solberg as the lead; the grip was switched after just under half the distances were covered. With his Skoda, the Swedish poster man took home three out of five stage victories and now leads by 6.8 seconds overall for Sami Pajari, followed by Jari Huttunen a further 18 seconds behind Solberg.
– It has been a perfectly okay day for me, and Pajari has been fast. Solberg stated that I have tried to stay on track and not make mistakes.