By Citroen Total World Rally Team co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen: "This is a typical superspecial stage, which is never very enjoyable for competitors, but an important part of the rally. It will be a bit strange this year as there is no snow, just ice on the grass. But that at least means consistent grip for everyone so I'm not complaining."
How the action unfolded:
Dani Sordo took the spoils at tonight's opening 1.9-kilometre Super Special Stage Karlstad. The Spaniard, piloting a MINI John Cooper Works WRC, finished 0.3s ahead of snow specialist Mads Ostberg in a Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Sub-zero temperatures and a glorious firework display greeted the WRC crews ahead of Rally Sweden's opening test. On his competitive debut on snow in the MINI, Sordo was out to impress. "The stage was really, really nice," he said. "We are happy now but it was just a short stage and tomorrow is going to be a long day."
Estonia's Ott Tanak was third quickest, 0.3s behind fellow Fiesta driver Ostberg. "For me, that stage was like a Mickey Mouse stage. The aim was to make it through without any problems and then the real competition starts tomorrow," said Tanak.
Eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb completed the stage matching Norwegian Petter Solberg's time to sit joint fourth overnight in their Citroen and Ford respectively.
An elated Solberg said he could not wait to compete on home soil tomorrow when the rally crosses over into Norway for the day. "That was a fantastic start. I am really, really pleased with that! I'm very excited for the rally moving to Norway tomorrow. It's going to be an amazing atmosphere with my home fans!"
Finns Mikko Hirvonen (Citroen) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford) finished sixth and seventh respectively, with Latvala reporting a loss of time at the start line.
In the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, PROTON's P-G Andersson - a firm favourite with locals - completed the stage quickest in class. Hayden Paddon was second quickest with Alister McRae, bringing the legendary McRae name back to the WRC, in third. Ireland's Craig Breen is sixth in the support series overnight after losing time with a right-rear puncture on his Fiesta S2000.
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