Rally Sweden 2016: Ogier wins

McKlein
Rally Sweden 2016
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B is a week before the Sweden Rally was looking for a severe winter with big ones The Swedish province of Värmland is home to masses of snow. But then warm winds and rain thawed all white and softened the streets. Rally leader Glenn Olsson relied on a fresh cold front, which let the ground freeze again in time for the start on Thursday (11.2.2016). The local newspapers already promised the end of the Swedish World Cup. Rumors of a move to Canada made the rounds. The heads of the top teams met with Olsen and the FIA ​​for a crisis meeting. But just at the start on Thursday evening the thermometer fell below zero again, and on Friday fresh snow covered the landscape in white as if nothing had happened.

But Olsson had to cancel 9 of the 21 planned exams, only the exams in Norway on the first day were largely icier. Only the Vargasen stage on Saturday, which is extremely popular because of its famous Colin’s Crest jump, was ridden twice on the Swedish side. The opening test on the trotting track in Karlstad had to be canceled. In the end, the pilots completed just 68 percent of the route, from 50 percent onwards there are full points. At around 226 kilometers, the 2016 Sweden Rally was the shortest in World Cup history.

Artificial ice and aquaplaning

If it had been possible for the majority of the top drivers, it would have been even fewer kilometers. World champion Sébastien Ogier thought the opening stage in Thorsby, which was to be driven entirely on gravel, was too tiresome and the smooth passages with torn out spikes too dangerous. However, the drivers in Sweden only had spike tires available. Hyundai works driver Haydon Paddon refused to join the boycott for fear of losing his job, so Thorsby was driven and, to the astonishment of the drivers, subsequently found to be quite good. The organizer had leveled the slope overnight and provided fresh ice with water trucks.

A large puddle of water would almost doomed some of the participants on the second stage. Sébastien Ogier was the first to sail off the runway during aquaplaning at 120 km /h and hit a group of trees. The Frenchman was able to save himself from the test with cross-eyed front wheels and even replace a bent handlebar during lunch break. Team colleague Andreas Mikkelsen also got away with a black eye. At the sameWhen it was flown off, it tattered the front of his Polo WRC. Technically everything was intact. Even a turner with a stump hit could not bend the suspension on the Norwegian. Only his fighting spirit was dampened: 'We're glad we're here,' he said at the finish line of the first stage, which largely took place on his Norwegian homeland. From then on, Mikkelsen concentrated on arriving safely. At the end of the day, he finished fourth and took second place in the driver's table.

VW
Action on the jumping hill in Colin's Crest.

And in the end Ogier is back in front

As in Monte Carlo with zero points, Vice World Champion Jari-Matti Latvala went home. The left front drive shaft broke on the first test. With rear-wheel drive, the three-time Sweden winner bravely fought his way through to the last test of the day, then a stone smashed the wheel suspension. With 10 penalty minutes under his belt, despite three best times on Saturday, nothing more than 26th place could be saved. Another minute lost due to a puncture hardly mattered.

Latvala had a duel between the blind and the lame on Friday with Thierry Neuville. The Belgian, who was runner-up in Sweden last year and started with secret hopes of victory in the new Hyundai, tore the dry-run rear axle differential due to an oil leak, whereupon Neuville worked his way towards the stage goal with front-wheel drive. He too remained unrewarded. Neuville crossed the finish line in 14th place.

Less dramatic but a hindrance to a good result was the puncture of teammate Dani Sordo's. Despite a good performance, the Spaniard only finished sixth. But team boss Michel Nandan instinctively did not nominate the Galician for the World Championships in Sweden. He had to join the B-Team, from there junior Hayden Paddon moved up to the second i20. And the New Lander thanked the trust placed in him with second place. On the first round in Vargasen, the Kiwi, benefiting from a late starting position, took over half a minute from the leader Ogier and managed to get close to the champion within just under 9 seconds. Because Ogier is the frontrunner on the slopes on the following stagesbut hardly had to sweep fresh snow, the Frenchman was able to restore the gap. Yet again he was lucky enough to be able to do so. 'He's been halfway out several times,' said Michel Nandan after studying the video of the second run in Vargasen.

The team manager didn't need to whistle his driver back. Paddon had no intention of attacking Ogier again. However, second place was still in danger shortly before the finish when Paddon knocked down a wooden stake at the edge of the path, which leaked the radiator. He could, however, patch the leak. At the end of the day, Ogier took another undisputed victory and also the 3 points for winning the final power stage. After his 34th World Championship success after two rallies, the defending champion is comfortably in the lead. In the brand world championship, the result looks tighter. Because Neuville crossed the finish line before Latvala, Hyundai is only 5 points behind VW with 49 points.

Ford only in front in the long jump

The third top M-Sport-Ford registered team was slightly disappointed. With Mads Östberg, team boss Malcolm Wilson had a hot iron for the overall victory in the fire, but the Norwegian would have needed better snow conditions. When Östberg got going, half the rally was already over. Third place was a consolation prize for the driver and team. On the cost side, after Monte Carlo, there is another wreck from teammate Eric Camilli. During his second appearance in the World Rally Car, the French felt a little safer on the unfamiliar track, when the Fiesta was already going over the roof.

On the other hand, his predecessor Elfyn Evans stayed on the bikes, like in Monte Carlo drove into the top ten with the weaker Fiesta R5 and won the WRC2 category. The Welshman prevailed against strong Northmen like the Skoda factory drivers Pontus Tidemand and Esapekka Lappi in their factory Skoda and Finland's top talent Teemu Suninen in another Fabia R5. Welshman Evans only had to admit defeat to Norwegian champion Eyvind Brynhildsen in a second Fiesta R5 in the long jump category. On the second attempt, Brynhildsen dived 45 meters over the crest of Colin’s Crest, and so the Norwegian not only beat his WRC2 colleagues in terms of courage, but also the entire field of top stars who were on the road with 40 hp more. Brynhildsen not only secured the Colin’s Crest Award, but also an entry in the annals. Never before had a car jumped further in the Vargasen forest.

Kris Meeke's soaring was rather short. The Citroën works driver again at the start in the non-works Citroën from PH Sport, cracked the steering of his DS3 WRC on a boulder, which threw him back to 23rd place. After all, the Irishman made the second longest set of the day in the long jump with 42 meters.

Former Peugeot factory driver Craig crawled surprisingly far forwardBreen making his first appearance in the Citroën WRC. Meeke's compatriot finished eighth, just 4.6 seconds behind Henning Solberg. The Norwegian veteran was clearly proud. He had finished seventh without a single test kilometer, a year after his last World Cup appearance. Even in the shakedown, Solberg and co-driver Ilka Minor could not rehearse beforehand. The final test on Thursday morning fell victim to the still too warm weather.

After all the pull-ups to save the rally, the organizer's heart was warm. Despite the lack of a guarantee for snow and cold in the future, Glenn Olsson's team received a new three-year contract. In our gallery we show you a few more impressions from the Rally Sweden 2016.

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