Kalle Rovanperä laid the foundations for his Rally Sweden assault by chalking up the fastest time on Thursday morning’s Skalla warm-up test.
The young Finn posted a time of 3min57.7sec during his fourth and final pass over the stage, 3.5sec quicker than the similar car of Sébastien Ogier in unusually mild conditions. Elfyn Evans was just one-tenth further back, making it a Toyota 1-2-3.
Ogier, a Rally Sweden expert, explained the difficulty drivers face as the levels of snow and ice covering the stages is lower than expected.
“Speed is what we are always looking for but there was an important lesson to learn on shakedown about tyres because we have never used these tyres on full gravel. I tried to learn the grip levels and how much they last, so in that perspective, it was an interesting shakedown,” he explained.
Craig Breen is relishing a last-minute call-up and managed fourth on shakedown in his Hyundai i20. The Irishman was 1.6sec faster than team-mate Ott Tänak, who returns to action after a dramatic crash at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Takamoto Katsuta was sixth in his Yaris, closely followed by Teemu Suninen, who very nearly fell foul to the conditions. The M-Sport Ford man suffered a high-speed spin 4.8km into the opening pass but was able to escape with only superficial damage. His team-mate Esapekka Lappi also had a similar moment.
Championship leader Thierry Neuville took a steady approach to take eighth-fastest ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala in a privately-entered Yaris, whilst Lappi rounded out the top-ten.
After changes to the schedule, crews will tackle a second single-pass shakedown at Karlstad’s Trotting Track tonight ahead of the first day of competitive action in the Norwegian forests on Friday.
Credit: Courtesy of wrc.com – the official website of the FIA World Rally Championship