Day 1: Team-by-team

Leg one of the Swedish Rally saw some of the closest competition ever witnessed on the event - with the lead margin as small as 0.1s for much of the day, and Marcus Gronholm starting day two just 0.2s ahead of Petter Solberg. Autosport's rallies editor David Evans summarises the fortunes of the leading teams

Day 1: Team-by-team


Sebastien Loeb admitted his overnight position 12.5s off the lead was more than he'd dared hope for on the eve of the event. The threatened overnight snow didn't arrive, meaning more favourable conditions for the first on the road Frenchman. His only drama throughout the opening leg was an overshoot in SS4, which cost 15s and the chance of leading at the end of leg one. Francois Duval's day was also mechanically free from trouble, but he admitted he hadn't enjoyed the variable grip levels on offer from the stages at all.


The highlight of Henning Solberg's day was coming within 0.1s of beating his brother on SS5. The low point was a puncture on SS6. About three miles from the end he clipped a rock with the left-front wheel. The mousse system failed in the tyres, leaving him to drive on the shredded rubber to the finish at the cost of 20s. After his stunning debut with the Ford team in Monte Carlo (where he finished second) Toni Gardemeister looked all at sea on an event he had pinpointed as one of his strongest of the season. By the end of the day he'd given himself a headache, thinking so hard about the conundrum that was the right set-up for his Focus.


Petter Solberg had promised no heroics, with a podium position targeted for Sunday afternoon. Even after he'd managed to set fastest times on the first two stages of the event, he remained adamant he wasn't taking chances. He ended the day 0.2s off the lead, looking by far the most comfortable he ever has done on this event. Stephane Sarrazin spent the day playing himself into the car and the conditions, without any technical trouble. With his confidence boosted from a trouble-free day, he is ready to step it up tomorrow.


Marcus Gronholm was only really happy with the third stage of the day, not enjoying the conditions on any of the other six. What he was happy with was a problem-free run in the Peugeot - and the fact that he was leading. Markko Martin was 36.9s down on his team-mate and hadn't really looked like challenging at the front throughout the opening leg. Getting to talk to the Estonian was a nightmare as he remained deep in conversation with his engineer for seemingly every second he wasn't in a stage. Tomorrow, we'll see whether it was time well spent.


The two Lancer WRC05 drivers couldn't have told more different tales of their opening legs. Harri Rovanpera, who hasn't been here since 2003, was disgruntled at the handling and set-up of his car, not to mention the conditions. Gigi Galli, on the other hand, couldn't stop smiling. On his first snow rally in a WRC, although he has competed in Sweden five times previously, he was right at the sharp end today. Fourth overall and his first ever fastest time at WRC level ensured the Italian would sleep soundly tonight.


Reigning DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom led the Skoda trio at the end of leg one. He'd played himself in confidently and didn't have any of the problems endured by his team-mates. Janne Tuohino went off the road on SS6 while suffering gear selection trouble. Jani Paasonen's problems came earlier in the day, when he stalled on the startline of stages two and three. Worse was to follow after a sheared wheel nut forced a change of hub at lunchtime service, costing him 20s in penalties as he was late out of service.



Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 307) 58m20.8s
Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza) 58m21.0s
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Xsara) 58m31.0s
Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi Lancer) 58m39.7s
Francois Duval (Citroen Xsara) 58m48.8s
Markko Martin (Peugeot 307) 58m57.7s
Toni Gardemeister (Ford Focus) 59m18.2s
Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi Lancer) 59m19.1s
Mattias Ekstrom (Skoda Fabia) 59m24.6s
Janne Tuohino (Skoda Fabia) 59m27.9s
Henning Solberg (Ford Focus) 59m28.7s
Roman Kresta (Ford Focus) 59m30.0s
Daniel Carlsson (Peugeot 307) 59m46.4s
Jani Paasonen (Skoda Fabia) 59m47.6s
Tobias Johansson (Subaru Impreza)1h00m18.9s
Chris Atkinson (Subaru Impreza) 1h00m21.7s
Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru Impreza) 1h00m57.7s
Anthony Warmbold (Ford Focus) 1h01m08.2s
Stig-Olov Walfridsson (Mitsubishi Lancer) 1h01m55.8s
Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Focus) 1h02m33.3s

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Day 1: Gronholm's tiny lead

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