Rally Sweden


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The 2011 World Rally Championship kicked off yesterday with Rally Sweden, the first event for the new 1600cc regulations, meaning world champion Sebastien Loeb has a brand new Citroen DS3 to play with, instead of a C4, and Ford's Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala are equipped with Fiestas instead of Focuses (Foci?)

After today's six extremely snowy stages (including two in neighbouring Norway), Mads Ostberg is the surprise leader in his Stobart Ford Fiesta, with a lead of nearly 15 seconds over works Ford driver Hirvonen. Petter Solberg is third, 42 seconds off the lead in his self-run DS3, with the other works Ford of Latvala a further 12 seconds adrift.

Sebastien Ogier is the first of the works Citroens in sixth, having set fastest time through the final stage of the day. Team-mate Loeb has struggled badly with deep snow as the first car through the stages, and following a puncture on stage seven is down in ninth place, the best part of 3 minutes off the pace. Kimi Raikkonen is eleventh in his DS3.

The rally continues with 8 stages and a superspecial tomorrow, and concludes with the final six stages on Sunday. The final stage will be broadcast live (on ESPN in the UK) at around 2pm GMT.

I expect Loeb's competitors will be quite pleased with his rather lowly ninth place.
They might even stand a chance this year ;)

What a shame it's only available on ESPN :(
I'll just have to wait until (if?) the highlights are available on a channel I can view.
Appently the Ford is a quite a bit better at this point in time. Looking at the Results Loeb could be in for a tough title defense, perhaps Asphalt might be his only chance looking at the results.

Ostberg looks pretty good now he's got a decent Car as oppsed to an either really old subrau or a rubbish 1. Such a shame its only on ESPN now
im not sure how putting the WRC on an overpriced subscription channel is going to help viewership but there you go,
Having watched the ESPN coverage now I thought they did a pretty good job, they've got John Desborough fronting it who's an old hand from the Channel 4 days. The live stage worked really well too - these cars look more dramatic than their predecessors, though having a lot of snow always helps! The exception was Solberg's DS3 - http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/89475

Ogier and Solberg set a fair few fastest stage times, and Hirvonen has always gone well in Sweden so I think it's too early to say categorically that the Fiesta is faster, but they've certainly got cause to feel more optimistic.
The coverage appears to be available here for anyone interested: http://www.rallybuzz.com/power-stage-rallysweden-live/
All fine except for the blinking red and green lights- whose idea was that?

On the commentary Julian Porter (I think) said that he knew co-drivers had taken over in the past due to driver injury, but couldn't actually think of any examples.

Cheers G, I don't get ESPN and couldn't find a feed over the weekend :D Happy Spesh :D
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