WRC Rally Sweden: Teemu Suninen error leaves Ott Tanak in big lead

Ott Tanak now leads the World Rally Championship's Rally Sweden by over half a minute, after his main rival for victory Teemu Suninen went off into a snowbank

WRC Rally Sweden: Teemu Suninen error leaves Ott Tanak in big lead

Toyota driver Tanak took the lead from Suninen by going 3.8 seconds faster on the morning's first stage, Rammen.

That gap was set to increase further on Hagfors but Suninen's victory challenge ended before the stage was over.

Carrying too much speed into a slow left turn in the technical section late on the stage, his M-Sport Ford Fiesta understeered wide into a snowbank and took one minute and a half to extract with the help of nearby spectators.

Tanak now holds a lead of 33.8s over second placed Andreas Mikkelsen, with Suninen dropping down to eighth place.

Mikkelsen had a quiet run throughout the morning but built his advantage over Elfyn Evans, who struggled for pace and now has only 1.1s in hand over fourth placed Thierry Neuville.

Starting the day in seventh, Neuville rose up the order despite complaining of understeer aboard his Hyundai i20.

He initially fell behind Kris Meeke but rebounded to pass both the Toyota on Hagfors and then Esapekka Lappi on the Vargasen test, inheriting fourth with Suninen's delay.

Lappi was still lacking confidence after a spectacular spin on Friday that nearly rolled his Citroen C3 but remains within touching distance of third place, one second behind Neuville and 2.1s off Evans.

Sixth placed Meeke is also in the podium hunt, only 8.1s adrift of Evans.

Hyundai's third driver Sebastien Loeb struggled for speed, admitting he had been too conservative with his pace notes during the recce. He is now falling away from the podium battle, 16.3s behind Meeke in seventh.

The recovering Suninen was third quickest on Vargasen, the next stage after his off, and is now only nine seconds behind Loeb in eighth. His M-Sport team-mate Pontus Tidemand remains in a lonely ninth position.

Sebastien Ogier returned under Rally2 rules following his retirement on Friday, when he became stuck in a snowbank.

He set the fastest stage times through both Hagfors and Vargasen, while fellow returnee Jari-Matti Latvala, who had been battling for the lead with Tanak and Suninen until crashing out on Torsby, won the Rammen stage.

WRC2 driver Ole Christian Veiby completes the top 10 overall, with 27.3s in hand to his nearest rival, reigning World Rallycross champion Johan Kristofferson, in 11th overall and second in class.

Autosport Live's Rally Sweden coverage resumes from midday UK time

Leading positions after SS11

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1h43m32.7s
2 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 33.8s
3 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 50.7s
4 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 51.8s
5 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT Citroen 52.8s
6 Kris Meeke, S.Marshall Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 58.8s
7 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 1m15.1s
8 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 1m24.1s
9 Pontus Tidemand, O.Floene M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m18.4s
10 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Ole Christian Veiby Volkswagen 3m59.6s

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Series WRC
Drivers Ott Tanak , Teemu Suninen
Author Alasdar Lindsay
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