Rally Sweden (9-12 February 2017) – Day 1

Day one of Rally Sweden served up plenty of excitement, with a series of changes in the top five. Among the leaders from the start, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle lie fourth overall overnight, whilst Craig Breen and Scott Martin ended the day in eighth position in the other Citroën C3 WRC.

The rally got underway on Thursday evening with a first run on the Karlstad racecourse super special stage. Kris Meeke was the top performer in the Citroën clan, setting the seventh fastest time.
After returning to Torsby to spend the night in parc ferme, the cars set off early this morning to tackle an opening loop of three stages: Röjden, Hof-Finnskog and Svullyra. In the afternoon, the itinerary included a second run on these three stages, before the leg concluded with a run on the Torsby stage.
Kris Meeke began the day well: the Northern Irishman set the second fastest time on SS2 to move up into third overall. He remained in third position throughout the morning, before being overtaken by Tanak due to a minor error on SS5.
It took the no.7 C3 WRC driver two stages to reclaim third place. However, with his tyres having lost most of their studs by the end of the day, he was unable to hang onto a podium spot. He returned to the service park fourth overall, 2.1s down on the third-placed driver.
Ninth after SS2, Craig Breen gained another place on the next stage. He remained eighth until the end of the day, despite a few incidents, such as breaking a front damper when he hit a rock (SS4) and a spin (SS6).
The day also went pretty well for Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau, who crept into the top 10 in their previous generation car. An error-free performance from the French driver saw him make good progress on his first Rally Sweden in a WRC.
Tomorrow’s leg will once again feature seven timed stages, covering a total of 125km. Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to gather at Colin’s Crest, the iconic jump on the Vårgasen stage!


YVES MATTON (CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL): « I think we can be pleased that all three of our cars are in the top 10 tonight. The pace was frantic out there, with a few mistakes being made by many of the crews but we remain well-placed to secure a good result in Sweden. Kris is fighting for a place on the podium and I think Craig has the potential to move up a place or two by being more consistent. Stéphane also had a good day, considering his limited experience here. »

KRIS MEEKE: « After a good morning, I lost time in the afternoon. On SS5, I dropped about fifteen seconds stuck in a snow bank. The car hit a bump, we ran wide on the next corner and were lucky not to lose more. On the final stage, I had no grip. My tyres were completely shot, they had lost most of their studs. But we’re still in contention for a place on the podium, so I still feel positive. »

CRAIG BREEN: « It hasn’t really been our day today! I made a series of mistakes, I damaged certain parts of the bodywork and I lost some of the aero package. It’s incredible what a difference the aerodynamics of the C3 WRC make. Despite all that, we’re still in the race, less than a minute off sixth place. »

STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE: « It’s been a good day, I think I’ve made quite a lot of progress on this surface. This morning, maybe I was driving a bit too much in the middle of the road, not daring to use the little snow banks on the side of the road. I enjoyed myself a bit more on the second pass. I would like to push more to close the gap to the guys ahead, but the risk with that is you end up being less effective. You have to find the right balance, but I think we’re heading in the right direction. »


1- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 1:16:24.7
2- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +28.1
3- Tanak / Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +49.7
4- Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) +51.8
5- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +55.7
6- Paddon / Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:17.8
7- Sordo / Marti (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:40.3
8- Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:54.3
9- Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +3:01.6
10- Lefebvre / Moreau (DS 3 WRC) +3:23.6
















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