Hot to trot: Neuville rules hippodrome to take Rally of Sweden lead
Date created :
Torsby (Sweden) (AFP)
Belgium's Thierry Neuville, behind the wheel of a Hyundai, sped to victory on the opening ice and snow-hit stage of the Rally of Sweden on Thursday held inside the Karlstad hippodrome.
Neuville edged out defending six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, who won the opening race in Monte Carlo last month, by 0.8sec on the tricky curves of a course more associated with trotting than high-speed rallying.
Ogier, in a Citroen, finished ahead of Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen in another Hyundai and Ott Tanak of Estonia driving a Toyota.
"We know how to lose in this stage and we also know how to win the rally," said Neuville who crashed out on the corresponding stage in 2017.
"This weekend is going to be tricky. Tomorrow morning we can hope for good conditions. I feel comfortable in the car, that's important."
The final heat of the opening stage pitched nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm, the 2000 and 2002 winner who was making a guest appearance at the Swedish race, nine years after his last appearance.
Loeb, in a third Hyundai, ended the day in 16th place overall, having lost six seconds on Neuville.
1st stage results:
1. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 1:34.9, 2. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Citroen C3) at 0.8, 3. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger (NOR/Hyundai i20) 1.1, 4. Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 1.9, 5. Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 2.0, 6. Teemu Suninen-Marko Salminen (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 2.7, 7. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Citroen C3) 3.0, 8. Marcus Gronholm-Timo Rautiainen (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 4.1, 9. Eerik Pietarinen-Juhana Raitanen (FIN/Skoda Fabia, WRC2) 4.4, 10. Kris Meeke-Sebastian Marshall (GBR/Toyota Yaris) 4.4
Selected: 16. Sebastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (FRA-MON/Hyundai i20) at 6.0
© 2019 AFP