MOTO BLOG Rally

Neuville tops Sweden warm-up

Thierry Neuville was fastest in a snowy Rally Sweden shakedown on Thursday morning. The Hyundai i20 driver topped the timings in the 6.86km Skalla test by 0.3sec from Mads Østberg, who impressed on his first appearance in a Citroën C3. Championship leader Sébastien Ogier completed the top three in a Ford Fiesta, a further 0.5sec behind.

Thierry Neuville

Norwegian Østberg was fastest in the first pass before Ott Tänak moved to the head of the standings in his Toyota Yaris following the second run. Neuville stopped the clocks fastest of all in his third and final pass.

“The car behaved fine and we just confirmed the settings from testing, some small modifications to the dampers and the roll bar on the rear. We had a good first pass, which for me is the most important run to look at,” he said.

“We don’t know if the snow will come. There are a lot of fast drivers at the front but also a lot of fast drivers starting far back as well, so more snow might mix it up a bit. We might see some big time differences in some stages between the first and the second pass.”

Østberg took the opportunity to cover as many kilometres as possible in his new car, completing five runs and setting his quickest time in the penultimate pass. Ogier saved his best to last, climbing into the top three in his fourth and final run.

Kris Meeke was fourth in another C3, 0.2sec slower than Ogier, while Tänak and Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen filled the top six.

Norwegian Mikkelsen opted for harder suspension in his i20 after the first pass while team-mate Hayden Paddon fitted a new differential to improve his car’s balance.

Elfyn Evans suffered an electrical problem in his Fiesta during the first run but that was quickly rectified and the Briton eventually claimed 10th.

The leading times were:

Position Driver Car Time
1. Thierry Neuville Hyundai i20 4min 17.3sec
2. Mads Østberg Citroën C3 + 0.3sec
3. Sébastien Ogier Ford Fiesta + 0.8sec
4. Kris Meeke Citroën C3 + 1.0sec
5. Ott Tänak Toyota Yaris + 1.4sec
6. Andreas Mikkelsen Hyundai i20 + 1.5sec
7. Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota Yaris + 1.7sec
8. Craig Breen Citroën C3 + 1.8sec
9. Teemu Suninen Ford Fiesta + 1.9sec
10. Elfyn Evans Ford Fiesta + 2.0sec