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WRC NEWS 

Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier and VW top qualifying

Sebastien Ogier, VW, Sweden 2013Sebastien Ogier continued Volkswagen's impressive start to its debut season with the Polo R WRC as he set the Rally Sweden qualifying pace.

Running on snow for the first time, the Frenchman's Polo was quickest through the 2.4-mile stage by 0.9 seconds on the outskirts of Hagfors. The Monte Carlo Rally runner-up felt he could have been even faster.

"It was not a good start," he said, "we didn't get off the line so well."

VW had been one-two in free practice, with Jari-Matti Latvala heading his team-mate Ogier. Latvala could only manage sixth in qualifying, but his time - 2.7 slower than Ogier's benchmark - was impressive given that he stalled on the line.

Qatar M-Sport driver Mads Ostberg was second fastest in his Ford, with Mikko Hirvonen the leading Citroen in third.

"I think there was probably more grip than I thought," said Hirvonen. "I could have pushed harder in there."

The biggest surprise of the day came with 22-year-old Swede Pontus Tidemand, who placed his Ford Fiesta RS WRC fourth, giving the locals plenty to cheer.

Juho Hanninen was fifth fastest in his Fiesta, just ahead of Latvala.

Belgian Thierry Neuville impressed with seventh fastest, on only his second appearance in the snow, while nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb was a slightly subdued eighth. Loeb reported no problems and a clean run through the stage when he reached the finish.

The morning's only casualties were Jarkko Nikara, who put his Mini off the road in free practice and Dani Sordo, who suffered brake problems on his Citroen and was only able to make one practice run.

He was 10th fastest in qualifying, one place up on M-Sport's Evgeny Novikov.

Leading qualifying stage times:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car             Time/Gap
 1.  Sebastien Ogier     VW                  1m51.357s
 2.  Mads Ostberg        Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 0.900s
 3.  Mikko Hirvonen      Citroen              + 1.564s
 4.  Pontus Tidemand     PTM Ford             + 2.448s
 5.  Juho Hanninen       Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 2.561s
 6.  Jari-Matti Latvala  VW                   + 2.705s
 7.  Thierry Neuville    Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 3.037s
 8.  Sebastien Loeb      Citroen              + 3.468s
 9.  Evgeny Novikov      Qatar M-Sport Ford   + 4.163s
10.  Dani Sordo          Citroen              + 4.787s
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