WRC Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier beats Hayden Paddon to victory

World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Ogier took his third Rally Sweden victory with a composed performance after resisting a challenge from Hyundai's Hayden Paddon

WRC Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier beats Hayden Paddon to victory

From the start of the rally - which was run on a shortened itinerary after fears about weather conditions - Ogier was never headed, but the Frenchman faced strong opposition on both Friday and Saturday.

Ogier kept his cool though and stroked his Volkswagen Polo R WRC home to win by 29.8 seconds.

His first challenge came from Citroen's Kris Meeke, who was closing in until striking a rock buried in the road for a second consecutive rally, forcing him to retire.

Meeke's demise promoted Paddon to second and after a steady start on Friday, the Kiwi took up the mantle on Saturday to eat into Ogier's lead.

On his first outing in Hyundai's New Generation i20 WRC, Paddon took 23s out of Ogier on the Vargasen stage - which left the pair just 8.8s apart.

But Ogier was able to double his lead by the end of Saturday's running and allayed any lingering doubts on Sunday's powerstage by setting the fastest time to secure victory and three bonus points, ensuring he is yet to drop a point so far this season.

Paddon was nevertheless an impressive second on just his third visit to Sweden, matching his previous best finish from Rally Italy last year.

But he faces an anxious drive back to the service park to confirm his place after damaging his radiator on the powerstage when he hit a marker post. Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are confident their temporary post-stage fix will work.

UPDATE: Paddon hangs on to second place

The battle for third looked as though it might be a close one between Mads Ostberg and Ogier's team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen, but a spit on SS14 effectively put paid to the VW driver's hopes.

Ostberg's steely approach handed him a deserved podium for M-Sport over his Norwegian compatriot, Mikkelsen's errors typifying his weekend having challenged Ogier early on.

Ott Tanak faded slightly after an impressive Friday but brought his D-MACK Ford Fiesta RS WRC home in a strong fifth place, ahead of the second Hyundai of Dani Sordo.

Craig Breen ended his first rally with Citroen in a fine eighth after an entertaining tussle with Henning Solberg, the Norwegian eventually finishing 4.6s clear.

Jari-Matti Latvala's chances of a strong showing ended on the first stage, as a broken driveshaft dropped him down the order before he retired from Friday with suspension issues.

He rejoined on Saturday alongside Meeke, who secured a powerstage point with the third-fastest time behind Ogier and Mikkelsen.

M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans clinched his second WRC2 victory in as many rallies after resisting a late charge from Pontus Tidemand, the Welshman winning by 14.7s.

LEADING FINISHERS AFTER SS21:

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LEADING POWERSTAGE TIMES:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 7m42.7s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Volkswagen Motorsport II Volkswagen 3.4s
3 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Abu Dhabi Total WRT Citroen 9.0s
3 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 9.0s
5 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen 12.1s

DRIVERS' STANDINGS:

Pos Driver Points
1 Sebastien Ogier 56
2 Andreas Mikkelsen 33
3 Mads Ostberg 27
4 Hayden Paddon 18
5 Dani Sordo 18
6 Ott Tanak 16
7 Thierry Neuville 15
8 Stephane Lefebvre 10
9 Henning Solberg 6
10 Elfyn Evans 6

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WRC Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier maintains lead into finale

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