WRC Rally Sweden: Ott Tanak dominates for Toyota

Ott Tanak has extended his Rally Sweden lead to nearly a minute, while a three-way fight for second place has developed between Andreas Mikkelsen, Esapekka Lappi and Thierry Neuville

WRC Rally Sweden: Ott Tanak dominates for Toyota

Following main rival Teemu Suninen's off into a snowbank in the morning, Toyota driver Tanak was left with a comfortable lead that he doubled with ease by scoring two stage wins during the next loop. He now holds a 54.3-second advantage over Mikkelsen in second.

Mikkelsen is under pressure from both Lappi and his Hyundai team-mate Neuville, the Citroen only 1.9s behind and Neuville a further 2.6s off Lappi.

Lappi was immediately on a charge on the afternoon loop, jumping past Neuville and Elfyn Evans into third place on Rammen with the second fastest time behind Tanak.

He continued to put pressure on Mikkelsen thereafter, clawing back nearly 20s in all over three stages.

It was nearly game over for Neuville on Vargasen when he went wide into a snowbank that spun him around and dragged him in.

Quick thinking from the Belgian meant he'd got down to first gear before the nose of his Hyundai i20 had even reached the snow, allowing him to power out and limit his losses to around five seconds. He was still second fastest behind stage-winner Sebastien Ogier.

Evans was not able to keep up with the trio sparring for third place after losing his podium spot to Lappi early in the afternoon. He is now fifth, 7.9s behind Neuville but comfortably ahead of Kris Meeke - with 28.3s in hand over the Toyota driver.

Meeke had finished Friday in eighth position, which led to a slot high up the running order. Unhappy with the "horrible" conditions - with the lack of snow meaning the first cars were left clearing gravel aside - Meeke was slow throughout the afternoon loop's first three stages.

He was no higher than eighth fastest on any stage, at one point describing Hagfors as "worse than the trickiest stage I've ever done in Monte Carlo".

That point was backed up road order trickery from Ogier, who voluntarily took time penalties by checking in late on each stage to run well down the order - instead of second on the road as he was required to following his Friday crash.

Meeke's struggles allowed Sebastien Loeb to reduce the gap to the sixth-placed Toyota to a mere 0.5s.

Nine-time World Rally champion Loeb's seventh position had appeared under threat from Suninen, but a spin into a tree by the M-Sport driver while setting the fastest split times on Vargasen halted his progress.

Suninen made it to the end of the stage still holding eighth overall, but damage to his rollcage from his contact with the tree caused M-Sport to retire his Fiesta. His forced withdrawal promoted his team-mate Pontus Tidemand to eighth.

Rally2 returnee Jari-Matti Latvala, who was already well outside the top 10 after his retirement on Friday, got into more trouble on Vargasen, going nose-first into a snowbank and losing around four minutes.

Ogier also had a big moment on the same test, landing sideways under braking after the famous Colin's Crest jump and spearing off to the inside of the next corner. He narrowly avoided a tree and cut through a snowbank on his way to fastest time.

WRC2 leader Ole Christian Veiby is ninth overall, though 10th-placed Jari Huttunen has been closing in all afternoon. Holding second in WRC2, Printsport driver Huttunen cut his gap to Veiby down to only 16.8s - aided by fastest times on Hagfors and Vargasen.

Two short stages remain on Saturday's itinerary, with a return to the Karlstad superspecial that opened the rally on Thursday night followed by a shorter version of Friday's Torsby test to conclude the evening.

Autosport Live's Rally Sweden coverage resumes from 4.45pm UK time

Leading positions after SS14

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2h15m55.7s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 54.3s
3 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT Citroen 56.2s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 58.8s
5 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 1m06.7s
6 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1m35.0s
7 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1m35.5s
8 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m16.9s
9 Pontus Tidemand, O.Floene M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 3m03.7s
10 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Ole Christian Veiby Volkswagen 5m18.3s


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About this article

Series WRC
Drivers Ott Tanak
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Alasdar Lindsay
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