WRC Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier replies to Hayden Paddon's charge

Sebastien Ogier held his nerve to narrowly increase his Rally Sweden advantage over Hyundai's Hayden Paddon with just two stages to run

WRC Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier replies to Hayden Paddon's charge

Volkswagen driver Ogier has led from the start of the rally but saw his lead slashed on Saturday's morning loop by a charging Paddon, who took 23 seconds from the World Rally champion on the first run of Vargasen.

That left Ogier's advantage at a precarious 8.8s, but the Frenchman fought back on the afternoon's two stages to restore a 15.9s margin over the New Zealander.

That included a fastest time on SS16, the re-run of Vargasen, ahead of an extended break before Saturday evening's Karlstad superspecial.

Paddon, who said after the stage his focus was on securing second place, has a 27s advantage over third-place man Mads Ostberg.

The M-Sport driver enjoyed a far more consistent afternoon than Andreas Mikkelsen to reinforce his claim to the final podium spot.

Having been overhauled by Ostberg on SS14, Mikkelsen pushed to try to regain the position on Rammen, but slid wide and spun. That cost him 20s to his rival.

Despite taking some time out of that advantage on SS16, Mikkelsen is now 25s behind his compatriot with two stages to run.

Ott Tanak continued to stay out of trouble and holds a lonely fifth, while Dani Sordo recovered from a puncture on the first stage of the day to consolidate sixth with the fourth-fastest time on SS16.

PH Sport Citroen driver Craig Breen closed back up to Henning Solberg in their battle for seventh place, the Irishman having taken four seconds out of the experienced Norwegian's advantage on the second Vargasen run.

Elfyn Evans continues to lead the WRC2 cars but faces a challenge to conserve his advantage into the final two stages of the rally after Pontus Tidemand moved to within 20s of the Welshman.

Sunday's originally planned four-stage itinerary has now been cut back to a single run of the powerstage due to the challenging road conditions that have affected the whole event.

That means crews only have to tackle Saturday night's 1.2-mile Karlstad superspecial and the 9.9-mile powerstage to complete the event.

Autosport Race Centre Live's Rally Sweden coverage will resume for the concluding powerstage at 11am UK time on Sunday

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS16:

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WRC Rally Sweden: Hayden Paddon carves into Sebastien Ogier's lead

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WRC Rally Sweden: Sebastien Ogier maintains lead into finale

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