WRC: Ogier on top at the end of day one

WRC: Ogier on top at the end of day one

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WRC: Ogier on top at the end of day one

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Sebastien Ogier reclaimed the Rally Sweden lead from his Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen at the end of a fascinating first day.

Mikkelsen had reduced Ogier’s initial 8.1-second lead to just 1.6sec going into the lunchtime regroup, then trimmed it to half a second on the next stage.

The Norwegian then took the lead but relinquished it on the day’s final stage when he chose to save his new tires for Friday morning and run older rubber.

Conditions in Sweden this weekend are putting a premium on tire conservation. With far less snow than the World Rally Championship field would hope for, the drivers need to nurse their allocation of 24 tires through increasingly gravel-based stages that will rip the winter studs from the rubber.

Deciding to save rubber at the end of Thursday meant Mikkelsen fell 5.8sec behind Ogier heading into day two.

VW is back into 1-2-3 formation with Jari-Matti Latvala 12.2sec off the lead in third.

M-Sport’s returnee Ott Tanak had briefly got ahead of Latvala during Thursday afternoon, and ended the day just 2.6sec behind the factory car.

Citroen’s Mads Ostberg and M-Sport’s Mikko Hirvonen share fifth place overnight, 7.7sec behind Tanak and 9.5sec ahead of Thierry Neuville in the best of the Hyundais.

Henning Solberg had run as high as eighth in an encouraging WRC return for both himself and Pirelli, but a right-front tire puncture cost him 50sec on the final stage of the day. He had previously been in a very close dice with his stepson Pontus Tidemand and Hyundai driver Juho Hanninen.

Kris Meeke and Robert Kubica have continued to avoid risks as they build up snow rally experience, and run 10th and 11th.

Leading positions after SS7:

Pos Driver              Team/Car          Time/Gap
 1. Sebastien Ogier     VW                39m56.5s
 2. Andreas Mikkelsen   VW                +5.8s
 3. Jari-Matti Latvala  VW                +12.2s
 4. Ott Tanak           M-Sport Ford      +14.8s
 5. Mads Ostberg        Citroen           +22.5s
 6. Mikko Hirvonen      M-Sport Ford      +22.5s
 7. Thierry Neuville    Hyundai           +32.0s
 8. Juho Hanninen       Hyundai           +42.0s
 9. Pontus Tidemand     M-Sport Ford      +44.6s
10. Kris Meeke          Citroen           +46.6s

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