FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015: CITROËN ABU DHABI WORLD RALLY TEAM-MADS ØSTBERG ON COURSE FOR PODIUM SPOT IN SWEDEN!
WRC A FULL 2015
MADS ØSTBERG ON COURSE FOR PODIUM SPOT IN SWEDEN!.
Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended day one of Rally Sweden third position and right in the mix for overall victory!
With the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s DS 3 WRC, the Norwegian and the Swede were consistently among the quickest on the first ten stages of the rally, held on either side of the border with Norway.
Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle lost close to three minutes after hitting a snow bank in the afternoon.
RALLY SWEDEN (12-15/02/2015) – DAY 1
13 February 2015
Over the last few weeks, the weather had looked like it would provide perfect conditions for Rally Sweden. However, an expected mild spell changed the nature of the stages yesterday morning.
The warmer temperatures meant less snow and more humidity, and it was widely felt that it would be increasingly advantageous to be one of the early starters on the stages. On SS1, held on Thursday night as a curtain raiser to the event, this theory was confirmed. Pontus Tidemand, competing in the WRC2 category, took full advantage of his starting position to win the stage, beating all of the WRCs!
This morning, the thin layer of ice covering the roads at sunrise was gradually chipped away as crews completed the stages, leaving patches of gravel exposed on the racing line. Mads Østberg attempted to keep pace with his main rivals by setting a series of top-four times. Running eighth, Kris Meeke had to contend with even less consistent conditions. Sixth after SS6, he lost almost three minutes when he got stuck in a snow bank in this afternoon’s second loop.
After finishing second on SS7, Mads Østberg continued to fight at the front. Despite almost running into trouble as he avoided a spectator on SS8, he ended the day on the provisional podium, just three tenths shy of second place.
In the RC2 class, Stéphane Lefebvre ended the opening leg in fifth position in his DS 3 R5. On his first appearance in Sweden, the talented French youngster continued his learning experience. Equally in a DS 3 R5, Robin Friberg and Thomas Thunstrom also ended day one in the top 10. In a DS 3 R3-MAX, Ole-Christian Veiby leads the FIA WRC3 Championship.
Tomorrow’s leg features eight timed stages, contested over a total of 134.82 kilometres. An early start awaits the crews – Parc Ferme opens at 6.05am, with service periods in Hagfors at 11.28am and 4.51pm. The running order will be the same as today.
Mads Østberg: “We had a good rhythm this morning, but we expected to see the early starters set very good times. This afternoon, we managed to claw back a few seconds in the first few stages. Then there was an incident on a high-speed section on SS8, with a spectator walking on the racing line. It cost us something like ten seconds. Every year, I lose some ground on the Norwegian stages. Usually, I’m quicker from the Saturday onwards. We’re only 19 seconds behind the leaders, so we’re going to push!”
Kris Meeke: “The temperatures are creeping up and the snow banks are less hard. If you hit them at the wrong angle, you can get end up getting stuck. Today, it happened to others and to us as well. On SS7, we lost around three minutes. My aim is to avoid making any mistakes, but this rally is really tough. Fortunately, we picked up the pace again quickly and I felt good again in the DS 3 WRC at the end of the day.”
HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED
SS1 – Super Special Stage Karlstad 1 (1.90km) – The crews began the rally at night as they battled it out in head-to-head races on the Karlstad racecourse. As the WRC2 drivers went before those of the WRC, they enjoyed better conditions. The Swede Pontus Tidemand took advantage to set the top time in an ‘R5’, ahead of Mads Østberg’s DS 3 WRC. Kris Meeke finished thirteenth, only 2.6 seconds off the pace.
SS2 – Torsby 1 (14.76km) – Overnight temperatures just below zero provided the early starters with a thin layer of ice. Sébastien Ogier went fastest to grab the overall lead. Third and fourth fastest on the stage, Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg established themselves among the frontrunners.
SS3 – Röjden 1 (18.73km) – This stage started and ended in Sweden, but a large part of it was contested in Norway. Negotiating the tall snow banks most effectively, Sébastien Ogier won the stage to extend his overall lead. Mads Østberg grabbed the third fastest time, whilst Kris Meeke was fourth.
SS4 – Finnskogen 1 (20.76km) – This was the first stage to be contested exclusively in Norway. Jari-Matti Latvala went quickest, whilst Mads Østberg finished fourth. A minor error led to a spin for Kris Meeke, who dropped around twenty second as a result.
SS5 – Kirkenaer 1 (7.07km) – One of the most technical stages of the rally was won by Sébastien Ogier. Mads Østberg claimed the third fastest time to move closer to third place. Sixth overall, Kris Meeke consolidated his position.
SS6 – Kirkenaer 2 (7.07km) – After change of tyres but no service, the morning’s stages were run again, this time in reverse order. Increasingly fast as more crews came through the stage, the conditions helped the Ukrainian Yurii Protasov to claim his first stage win in the WRC. Kris Meeke finished sixth and Mads Østberg was seventh to hold position.
SS7 – Finnskogen 2 (20.76km) – Kris Meeke got stuck in a snow bank, losing almost three minutes. Mads Østberg almost claimed a stage win, finishing just 1.1 seconds behind Latvala.
SS8 – Röjden 2 (18.73km) – Whilst looking like he might have the pace to win the stage, Mads Østberg was distracted by one of the spectators towards the end of the test. The Norwegian lost around ten seconds as a result. Having dropped down to 19th overall after SS7, Kris Meeke began his fightback, claiming the second fastest time behind Mikkelsen.
SS9 – Torsby 2 (14.76km) – Before the crews headed back to Hagfors, the leaderboard was shaken up. Whilst Ogier hit a snow bank and dropped around thirty seconds, Latvala went off and lost over eight minutes… Thierry Neuville won the stage to move up into second place behind the new rally leader, Andreas Mikkelsen. Mads Østberg moved back up into third, ahead of Ogier. Kris Meeke was already up to twelfth overall.
SS10 – Super Special Stage Karlstad 2 (1.90km) – The second pass on the super special stage, held on the Karlstad racecourse. Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke won their head-to-head battles against Andreas Mikkelsen and Martin Prokop respectively. The stage win went to Ogier, just ahead of Østberg, with Meeke fifth.
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
1. Andreas Mikkelsen / Ola Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:14:03.6
2. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +19.1
3. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +19.4
4. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +24.7
5. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +1:06.2
6. Hayden Paddon / John Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:37.1
7. Martin Prokop / Jan Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:00.5
8. Yurii Protasov / Pavlo Cherepin (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:11.4
9. Henning Solberg / Ilka Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:18.2
10. Elfyn Evans / Daniel Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +2:49.6…
12. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +3:31.3…
Sébastien Ogier, 4 – Jari-Matti Latvala, 2 – Pontus Tidemand, Yurii Protasov, Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville, 1.
SS1: Pontus Tidemand
SS2 to SS8: Sébastien Ogier
SS9 and SS10: Andreas Mikkelsen
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