RALLY SWEDEN (12-15/02/2015) – DAY 2 - POINTS UP FOR GRABS FOR THE DS 3 WRCs
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson head into the final day of Rally Sweden fourth overall in the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s DS 3 WRC.
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle secured their maiden stage win in Sweden. After yesterday’s misfortune, they moved back up the standings today and now lie ninth overall.There are three stages left to contest tomorrow before the end of the rally.The crews were up and about before daylight this morning, heading for their DS 3 WRCs at 6.00am. After the early service, Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke covered over eighty kilometres to get to the start of the day’s opening timed stage. With temperatures just above freezing and very good visibility, conditions were perfect as they set off on Fredriksberg 1.
Firmly established in the leading quartet, Mads Østberg lost precious seconds on SS11 with a puncture on his rear left-hand tyre. Trailing the leader by over a minute at that point, he made up time throughout the rest of the leg, arriving back in Hagfors 53.4 seconds off the pace.
Twelfth overall this morning after hitting a snow bank during the first leg, Kris Meeke started to take advantage of the experience he has acquired on the Swedish stages. After moving back into the top 10 at the end of the day’s first stage, the Briton then closed the gap on his fellow countryman, Elfyn Evans. In particular, Kris claimed his first stage win in Sweden on Rämmen 2 (SS16) as ruts appeared on the lines.
In the RC2 class, Stéphane Lefebvre moved up the standings in his DS 3 R5 to claim fourth place. In his DS 3 R3-MAX, Ole-Christian Veiby continues to lead the FIA WRC3 Championship.
There are three stages left to run tomorrow morning. The day starts at 7.40am as the crews head for Lesjöfors (15.00km) before they complete two runs on Värmullsåsen, the second of which will serve as the Power Stage and will be broadcast live on television at 12.08pm. The podium ceremony is due to begin at 3.00pm in Karlstad.
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Unfortunately, Mads lost time on the opening stage of the day. He needs to maintain a strong pace and if he gets an opportunity, he’ll also have to grab it. Kris produced some strong performances. He is continuing to learn at this level by driving on the stages. But he can’t make up the time he lost yesterday.”
Mads Østberg: “It was a tough day. Most of the stages went very well, but I had a few problems. I also made a mistake on the first stage of the day. We picked up a puncture and lost about 45 seconds. I’m disappointed but I’m going to concentrate on fourth position and enjoy the last three stages. We’ll see what happens.”
Kris Meeke: “We won our first stage in Sweden on the snow. I have to be pleased with my day, despite the frustration from yesterday. On Friday evening, we were 3 minutes 31 seconds behind the leader and now the gap is 3 minutes 22 seconds. This is only my second Rally Sweden. We have to keep up the same pace tomorrow because we’re less than a second behind Elfyn Evans and Prokop is only 19 seconds ahead. There are still places up for grabs!”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS11 – Fredriksberg 1 (18.15km) – Good conditions greeted the crews at the start of the day, but there was a lot of snow on the racing line. Andreas Mikkelsen set the fastest time, whilst Mads Østberg picked up a puncture. Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time. Henning Solberg lost over five minutes after he got stuck in a snow bank.
SS12 – Rämmen 1 (14.76km) – With the road surface much harder on this test, Sébastien Ogier was able to add another stage win to his tally. Mads Østberg found his pace again to finish third fastest. Kris Meeke had to contend with a racing line muddied by other crews completing the stage ahead of him.
SS13 – Hagfors Sprint 1 (1.87km) – Sébastien Ogier topped the timesheets again on this stage, held on the former rallycross circuit. Østberg set the fifth fastest time, whilst Meeke was seventh.
SS14 – Vargåsen 1 (24.63km) – The final stage of the morning loop with the first run over the famous Colin’s Crest jump. Sébastien Ogier won the stage to close within 1.7 seconds of overall leader Andreas Mikkelsen. Meeke and Østberg headed for the midday service after recording the third and fourth fastest times.
SS15 – Fredriksberg 2 (18.15km) – Although those higher up the running order had to carve out the racing line at the start of the second pass, the later runners had to contend with very rutted lines. Thierry Neuville set the fastest time ahead of Mikkelsen and Meeke. Less comfortable, Mads Østberg finished eleventh.
SS16 – Rämmen 2 (14.76km) – A one-two finish for the DS 3 WRCs! Kris Meeke claimed his first stage win in Sweden, with Mads Østberg second.
SS17 – Hagfors Sprint 2 (1.87km) – Making the most of the conditions again, Robert Kubica went quickest, finishing ahead of Ott Tanak, Yurii Protasov and Kris Meeke. Mads Østberg was sixth fastest.
SS18 – Vargåsen 2 (24.63km) – Thierry Neuville produced another impressive performance thanks to adopting a different tyre strategy to his rivals. The Belgian therefore grabbed the overall lead. Kris Meeke, Sébastien Ogier and Mads Østberg completed the top four on the day’s final stage.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 2
1. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:29:54.52. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1.53. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +9.64. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +53.45. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:29.26. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:35.77. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:03.18. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:22.19. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +3:22.510. Yurii Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:19.6…
Sébastien Ogier, 7 – Thierry Neuville, 3 – Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, 2 – Kris Meeke, Pontus Tidemand, Yurii Protasov and Robert Kubica, 1.
SS1: Pontus Tidemand
SS2 to SS8: Sébastien Ogier
SS9 to SS17: Andreas Mikkelsen
SS18: Thierry Neuville