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Rally Sweden 2015: The most exciting rally of all time

Rally Sweden 2015
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T snotty thaw in the Swedish province of Värmland still loomed along neat walls of snow of the icy slopes, and with whom the actors should have plenty of contact on this memorable weekend. It all started with the local hero Pontus Tidemand, who was entered in the WRC2 with his Ford Fiesta R5, but who nevertheless set the best time thanks to an optimal starting position at the start of the harness racing track in Färjestad and, to the delight of his compatriots, was allowed to stay as overall leader. But on Friday the hope of the three crown nation slipped into a snowdrift. Tedemand lost more than eight minutes and was only fifth in WRC2 despite a thunderstorm.

Ogier and Latvala with early mistakes

Right at the front, the world champion, of all people, failed. VW works driver Sébastien Ogier was a touch too fast on the ninth stage in Thorsby, 30 seconds were gone and thus actually the victory - if the toughest rival had known about it. Less than ten minutes after Ogier's faux pas, Latvala misjudged himself shortly before the finish of the same stage in a quick right and sank his Polo for eight and a half minutes.

The Finn was completely demoralized, used the rest of the rally for testing, and because he had no chance of scoring points as 13th and also missed out on the final power stage, he decided to retreat before the last time control, which gives him more freedom in the choice of materials for gearboxes and differentials in upcoming rallies.

Instead of a sure Latvala victory, there was a new mix after his excursion. Andreas Mikkelsen also had contact with snow, but to a much lesser extent than his VW colleagues. The Norwegian took the lead and watched as the opponents shot one after the other into the deep white.

The Ford Fiesta of Robert Kubica, Ott Tänak and Elfyn Evans were there as well as the two factory Citroën of Mads Östberg and Kris Meeke, who got stuck in the snow twice. Meeke made his last mistake on the last stage and thus lost the British duel for seconds against Evans for sixth place in the last kilometers. Places seven and ten are a rather narrow result for the Citroën team, which only ranks 4th in the brand table.

Of the supporting actors, Ott Tänak was the one who most drew attention to himself. The Estonian thanked him with rank 4 for thatTrust from team principal Malcolm Wilson. The Hyundai Juniors should also be mentioned. Haydon Paddon has only had a good handful of appearances, but the New Zealander moved up to 5th place with a strong drive and celebrated the best result of his career.

Teammate Kevin Abbring was like a virgin to his first run in the snow and on a World Rally Car. The young Dutchman, who was actually hired as a test driver only to drive rallies in the i20 in the second half of the year, had to replace works driver Dani Sordo, who had broken his arm in a mountain bike accident. Abbring made a solid debut under the difficult conditions but didn't make it into the points in eleventh. You already guessed it: the snow was in the way.

Only one withdrew from the magnetism of the white walls. Thierry Neuville in the first Hyundai, usually good for a ride, did gymnastics with his i20, praised his work equipment despite the lack of further development and made team boss Michel Nandan proud, because for the first time his car was absolutely at eye level with the superior VW Polo. However, Nandan admitted that the biggest thank you went to the driver.

Neuville literally flew through Värmland's forests. At the popular Vargasen stage, the most legendary place of the rally with the 'Colin's Crest' jump point, the Belgian won the long jump classification and set an all-new record with 44 meters. It was there that Neuville took the lead on Saturday evening. With 1.6 seconds he was ahead of Mikkelsen and 9.6 on Ogier, who was crawling forward.

Ogier final spurt secures Rally Sweden victory

Three stages with around 45 kilometers were completed on the final Sunday on the program, and the whole service park expected the big attack of Sébastien Ogier, who as leader of the table after two days as first on the track now benefited from the reversed starting order of the best on Sunday.

Prompt Ogier drove the best time, but Mikkelsen, who was a little technically handicapped with the previous year's Polo, did not let himself be bought off. He lost just 1.3 seconds, but took the lead because Neuville had been irritated by background noises in the intercom.

On the penultimate stage in Värmullsasen, Ogier only took 3, despite all his efforts, from him on almost 16 kilometers. 8 seconds off. There was a lead of 3.0 seconds before the final, which was also driven on Värmullsasen. Neuville had fallen back to third place, but was just 4.6 seconds behind his second World Cup victory.

Andreas Mikkelsen has been waiting for a first World Cup success for a long time, and so he announced that he would Not wanting to take any consideration of material and table. 'It will probably be a matter of tenths in the end,' he predicted. After the first five kilometers of the last stage, Ogier had set an incredible record, just under nineSeconds faster than the previously started Latvala. But Mikkelsen was on a tenth of a second. After ten kilometers, Ogier had stolen seven tenths from him, but that was not enough. He would have had to catch up almost half a second per kilometer in the last third to win - a world among top drivers.

Mikkelsen with Riding out in the final

Neuville was at the finish, had fought bravely, but could not intervene in the duel between the VW men on his own. Then Ogier arrived, and no sooner had his helmet off his head, Swedish television showed a windshield wiper desperately trying to sweep large masses of snow from the windshield. It was Mikkelsen's car that was stuck in a wall of snow two minutes before the end.

In a middle-fast right, the Polo slipped slightly at the rear, when attempting to intercept, his nose touched the snow wall and pulled the car into ruin. Hard-working fans got the Norwegian back on track, and with a loss of around 40 seconds it was still enough to make 3rd place, but that was no consolation.

'I tried it,' said a deeply disappointed Andreas Mikkelsen , while Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia stormed the roof of their Polo cheering. They won 6.4 seconds ahead of Neuville. It was the second victory in Sweden for the French duo after 2013 and a particularly valuable one for Ogier: 'I was at a disadvantage for 85 percent of the rally because of my starting position, but I still won. I'm very proud of that,' said the defending champion with one Swipe at the new regulations.

The bent colleagues now have to straighten up with their eyes on the future. The first gravel rally is on the program in March. In Mexico, Ogier has to sweep the road again for two days, actually enough to beat the world champion.

In our gallery we once again show you the highlights of the Swedish crime thriller.


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