Elfyn Evans continued his impressive form from Rally Monte Carlo to lead after Rally Sweden’s opening day of running. The Toyota man leads 2019 champion Ott Tanak by 8.5 seconds after Friday’s four stages.
A win on Friday’s super special, Torsby Sprint, moved Tanak ahead of 19-year-old Kalle Rovanpera who sits in third despite losing six seconds to a stall at a hairpin on the day’s final stage.
Sebastien Ogier lies in fourth, 17.8 seconds behind his rally-leading team-mate Evans. Ogier admitted his younger team-mates had done a better job on the rally’s first day and is hoping to adjust his car’s set-up to help improve his pace over the remaining six stages.
Monte-Carlo winner, Theirry Neuville, is a further six seconds behind Ogier with M-Sport’s Esapekka Lappi separating the rivals in the overall classification. Neuville was disappointed to finish the day in sixth position knowing that it would be difficult to make up ground on the leaders with so many stages cut from Rally Sweden’s itinerary.
Fellow Hyundai driver Craig Breen had a steady return to the World Rally Championship as the Irishman finished the four stages in seventh, just 0.6 seconds behind Neuville.
Teemu Suninen and Takamoto Katsuta round out the remaining WRC crews as Jari-Matti Latvala was forced to retire his Toyota in service before the Torsby Sprint stage.
In the Junior WRC, Northern Ireland’s Jon Armstrong slid wide on a fast right-hander on Stage 4, Nyckelvattnet, putting an early end to his rally. He was tenth in the JWRC before his retirement.