The first full day of running in Rally Sweden was dominated by Norwegian drivers holding three out of the top five positions. This was much to the delight of spectators along one of the stages which made a loop into Norway.
While the first starters Sébastien Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg suffered from having to clear some fresh snow during the first loop of the Friday stages, youngster Mads Ostberg could keep better speed.
Setting some fastest times the Norwegian Ford Fiesta WRC driver held the lead all day and will start Saturday morning with a 14.8 second lead over last year’s winner and fellow Ford driver Mikko Hirvonen of Finland.
– I have had a lot of practise in Norway in snowy conditions like this and now enjoy every minute in this all new car, said Ostberg.
Petter Solberg, Citroën, holds third ahead of Ford drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Henning Solberg and Citroën’s Sébastien Ogier. Like Hirvonen they stressed how difficult the conditions had been. But World Champion Sébastien Loeb had the most troubled day of the top runners being first on the road and then also suffering a puncture in Friday’s last stage. This puts him in ninth position nearly three minutes behind the leader.
– For sure I will push tomorrow, but it will be very difficult, said Loeb.
Swede P-G Andersson who held the overnight lead after Thursdays Super Special put his Fiesta WRC on its side in the first Friday stage losing a minute and then dropped a further four minute when puncturing.
Best local driver is Patrik Sandell in seventh position holding a close Super 2000 class lead over Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen both in Skoda Fabias.
Norwegian Anders Grondal leads the Production Car World Championship category some twenty seconds ahead of Sweden Patrik Flodin. They both drive Subaru Imprezas.