Tom Kristensson overcame a final stage puncture to distance his FIA Junior WRC rivals in Saturday’s penultimate leg of Rally Sweden.
Kristensson almost doubled his 23.0sec opening day advantage before striking tyre problems in the closing Torsby Sprint speed test. The Swede dropped little more than a handful of seconds to close with a 41.8sec lead ahead of Sunday’s finale.
He won the day’s opening Hof-Finnskog special stage in his Ford Fiesta R2 and posted top three times in the next two stages before his hitch.
“We had a right-rear puncture on the last stage but didn’t lose so much time. This morning started well and we took a cautious approach this afternoon. I’m so happy about the situation right now and I hope we can make it,” said Kristensson, who is bidding to repeat his category win of 12 months ago.
Mārtiņš Sesks and Lauri Joona continued to battle over second. Joona had the upper hand and was faster than his Latvian rival in three of the four stages to cut the deficit to 9.7sec.
Estonia’s Ken Torn escaped a scare on the same final stage corner that trapped Fabio Andolfi yesterday to retain fourth. The Estonian narrowed the gap from Joona to 8.4sec and had 11.6sec in hand over Finn Sami Pajari, who claimed a stage win.
Raul Badiu was fastest through the Torsby Sprint test for a second day to hold sixth, more than two minutes adrift of Pajari.
Andolfi retired for a second day with an overheating engine, while Oscar Solberg slid down the order when an electrical problem caused a misfire.
Credit: Courtesy of wrc.com – the official website of the FIA World Rally Championship