WRC Rally Sweden: Suninen leads Tanak, as Ogier and Latvala crash

Teemu Suninen leads a World Rally Championship event for the first time on Rally Sweden, while nearest rival Jari-Matti Latvala and points leader Sebastien Ogier have both crashed

WRC Rally Sweden: Suninen leads Tanak, as Ogier and Latvala crash

Both M-Sport's Suninen and Toyota driver Latvala had risen quickly through the order during the morning and continued their progress up the leaderboard after the midday service, immediately moving to second and first place respectively on Hof-Finnskog's afternoon rerun.

Suninen then moved into first with a fastest time on the subsequent Svullrya test, with previous leader Ott Tanak dropping further adrift in third place.

Trouble befell both leading drivers on the final short Torsby test, with Latvala running wide over a crest and becoming stuck in a snowbank that took him nearly 24 minutes to get unstuck from.

Toyota elected to retire Latvala's car for a return under Rally2 regulations on Saturday, effectively reducing that time loss to only seven minutes.

Suninen meanwhile had his lightpod, necessary for driving through Torsby's twilight conditions, partially detach from his Ford Fiesta, obscuring the view from his windscreen and costing him 11 seconds to Tanak behind.

The gap between Suninen and Tanak consequently shrank to only 2.0s heading to overnight service.

Third placed Andreas Mikkelsen was one of the primary beneficiaries, as one of the few drivers not to suffer some sort of drama in the afternoon.

Elfyn Evans had suffered a spin on stage two, the morning pass of Hof-Finnskog, but won two of the afternoon's four stages to climb up to fourth place.

He moved up partially at the expense of Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville, the two top finishers from last month's Monte Carlo Rally.

Ogier ran wide on Svullrya, clipping a snowbank that dragged him in nose-first and left him stranded. The Citroen driver was forced to retire from the leg.

Ogier's team-mate Lappi was one of the beneficiaries, and a rapid time on the final Torsby test then promoted him from ninth to fifth in one swoop.

Sebastien Loeb had struggled to acclimatise to Sweden's roads on his return to the snow even after six years away. His pace improved in the afternoon, as he set top five stage times regularly and moved up to sixth. He had been as low as 10th during the day.

Neuville became first driver on the road after Ogier's retirement and struggled, complaining that the lack of snow on stages had turned it into a gravel rally.

He had already spun twice on Hof-Finnskog, once at speed when the rear kicked out and touched a snowbank, and again when he slid wide at a junction through lack of grip.

The Hyundai driver finished the day seventh, with a slim 0.4s advantage over Kris Meeke behind in eighth.

M-Sport's third driver Pontus Tidemand, who struggled with a throttle sensor issue in the morning, improved his pace somewhat in the afternoon but remains a distant ninth.

WRC2 leader Ole Christian Veiby completes the top 10 in a privateer Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Autosport Live's Rally Sweden coverage resumes from 6.30am UK time on Saturday

Leading positions after SS8

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 1h11m05.3s
2 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 2.0s
3 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 17.8s
4 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 28.6s
5 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT Citroen 42.0s
6 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 48.8s
7 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 52.7s
8 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 53.1s
9 Pontus Tidemand, O.Floene M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 1m24.4s
10 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Ole Christian Veiby Volkswagen 2m39.7s


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Ott Tanak takes two WRC Rally Sweden stage wins on opening morning

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About this article

Series WRC
Drivers Jari-Matti Latvala , Sébastien Ogier , Ott Tanak , Teemu Suninen
Author Alasdar Lindsay
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