Pictures courtesy Red Bull Content Pool
Reigning world champion Sebastien
Ogier drove his Volkswagen Polo R to a 29.8sec success in the Karlstad-based
snow and ice rally to add to his 2013 and 2015 triumphs. He was crowded champion of Rally Sweden, the second leg of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Ogier also claimed full bonus points for
winning the final Power Stage and after two of the 14 rounds the Frenchman has
maximum championship points.
A big thaw before the start threatened the
season’s only pure winter rally as the frozen gravel roads turned to mud. By
the time the cold weather returned, nine of the 21 speed tests in Sweden and
Norway had been axed, but up to 10cm of snow and temperatures as low as -10°C
ensured the event went ahead.
Ogier’s dominance was challenged during the
second leg on February 13, 2016 when he had to sweep fresh snow from the roads
to create a cleaner line for those behind. His half-minute lead was slashed to
less than 10sec by Hayden Paddon before he reasserted his authority.
“Two wins from the first two rallies – it
can’t get any better. Yesterday was a little bit too crazy and I took risks
like I had never done in my life,” said Ogier, who survived a massive sixth
gear slide on the final day on February 14, 2016.
A holed radiator gave Paddon
cause for concern after the Power Stage. “Conditions were terrible at the
beginning of the week but the organisers did an impressive job so that we had a
good rally,” he said. New Zealand’s Paddon matched his career-best result on
his debut in Hyundai’s new i20 and became the first non-European driver to
finish on the Sweden podium. He survived a late scare after hitting a wooden
post metres from the finish of the last stage.
The impact damaged the radiator and Paddon and
co-driver John Kennard filled a small hole to stem a fluid leak before driving
cautiously on the 85km liaison section to the finish. Mads Ostberg completed
the podium in a Ford Fiesta RS, 25.8sec behind Paddon and 15.2sec ahead of
fellow Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen. Mikkelsen ran as high as second but a
time-consuming spin on Saturday ended his podium hopes.
Ott Tänak and Dani Sordo
completed the top six in a Fiesta RS and i20 respectively, a front left
puncture ending the latter’s top three challenge. Henning Solberg and Craig
Breen, driving Citroen’s DS 3 for the first time, were next up with WRC 2
winner Elfyn Evans and Teemu Suninen completing the leaderboard.
(driveshaft), Thierry Neuville (transmission) and Kris Meeke (suspension) all
finished down the order after opening day problems. The championship heads to
gravel for the first time next month when León hosts Rally Guanajuato Mexico (3
- 6 March).