Sebastien Ogier set the Rally Sweden qualifying pace with the Volkswagen Polo R WRC, continuing VW’s impressive season start.
The Frenchman was the quickest through the 2.4-mile stage on the outskirts of Hagfors, stopping the clock at 1 minute 51.3 seconds. Ogier and his co-driver Julien Ingrassia were 0.9 seconds ahead of second-placed Mads Ostberg on Qatar M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta.
“A good start to the Rally Sweden. I am extremely happy, as that was an ideal drive in qualifying. The car set-up is also right, so we will not have to make any major changes there,” Ogier said.
His team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala could only manage sixth in qualifying (+2.7 seconds), but his time was still impressive given that he stalled on the start line for 2.6 seconds. Citroen’s Mikko Hirvonen was third quickest and the fastest of the Citroen drivers.
The biggest surprise of the day was 22-year-old Swede Pontus Tidemand, who qualified fourth in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC, much to the delight of the locals. Juho Hanninen was fifth fastest in his Fiesta, just ahead of VW’s Latvala. On only his second appearance in the snow, Belgian Thierry Neuville impressed with seventh fastest, just ahead of nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb.
The Rally Sweden gets underway with a spectator stage in Karlstad on Thursday evening, in which pairs of World Rally Cars go head to head in direct duels.