FIA: Day 1 of 2012 Rally Sweden

At the end of the first full day of competition in Rally Sweden, Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala heads the leaderboard ahead of Mikko Hirvonen, the Citroën driver 16.8 seconds adrift after 10 stages and nearly 150 competitive kilometres. Petter Solberg rounds off the top three.

Rally Sweden, the only true winter event on the calendar, started last night with a short super special stage, but it was today when the crews headed into the snowy forests of neighbouring Norway for a taste of the real action. Yesterday also witnessed the first Qualifying session in the FIA World Rally Championship, affording the drivers – from fastest to slowest – the opportunity to choose their start positions for today. Latvala topped the Qualifying session and he and all the leading drivers opted to run further down the field in the hope of more advantageous road conditions.

Latvala got into his stride almost immediately and the Finn took the lead after stage three, holding off charges from Hirvonen, Solberg, Norway’s Mads Østberg and reigning World Champion Sébastien Loeb. However, the Finn lost his lead to Hirvonen after stage six, before recovering it again in a tight battle that has witnessed all four drivers fighting for the lead. Behind Latvala, Hirvonen and Solberg, Østberg – who led after stage two – has slipped to fourth overnight but has a healthy advantage over fifth-placed Evgeny Novikov. Sébastien Loeb has recovered to seventh during the day, the Frenchman starting this morning with a 10 second penalty as last minute changes to the tyre strategy delayed him out of service. He then lost time stuck in a snow bank in stage seven and is now more than two minutes adrift of the lead.

Dani Sordo had been in the mix with the leaders, but the Spaniard was forced into retirement with an engine problem. Paulo Nobre went off in the first stage, as did Ott Tänak.

Rally Sweden – Unofficial Results after Day 1

1.   Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila
2.   Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen
3.   Petter Solberg/Chris Patterson
4.   Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson
5.   Evgeny Novikov/Denis Giraudet
6.   Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor
7.   Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena
8.   Patrik Sandell/Staffan Parmander
9.   Martin Prokop/Zdenek Hruza
10. Eyvind Brynildsen/Cato Menkerud
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Citroën DS3 WRC
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Citroën DS3 WRC
MINI Cooper Works WRC
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Ford Fiesta RS WRC
1 hr 23 min 50.8sec
1 hr 24 min 07.6sec
1 hr 24 min 09.4sec
1 hr 24 min 23.1sec
1 hr 25 min 02.9sec
1 hr 25 min 39.3sec
1 hr 25 min 59.7sec
1 hr 26 min 09.6sec
1 hr 26 min 17.7sec
1 hr 26 min 50.6sec