No it’s not the Snowman in 10 days, it this weekend’s Rally Sweden the second round of the 2015 WRC.
At the end of the Shakedown stage today, Sebastien Ogier finished fastest ahead of Robert Kubica, Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke.
Volkswagen actually set first, fifth and sixth fastest stage times with Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia fastest (1m 59.0s) over the 4.30-kilometre ‘Råda’ stage, which was used for the FIA World Rally Championship’s (WRC) free practice.
They were followed by Robert Kubica (1m 59.2s, M-Sport-Ford) and Mads Østberg (1m 59.2s, Citroen DS3) and Kris Meeke (1m 59.3s, Citroën DS3). The top drivers completed at least four runs – sometimes up to seven – with every attempt quicker than the previous run. Elfyn Evans was 8th quickest on 1m 62.1s.
On the whole, conditions improved with each successive car sweeping more snow and slush from what at the start of the day were icy, snow-covered roads.
After the shakedown, Sébastien Ogier commented: “The roads were in perfect condition when we did the ‘Recce’. Unfortunately it has warmed up a little, and you could really notice this on the Shakedown. When it starts to thaw, the conditions become very slippery and far from easy. For this reason, I hope it freezes over again during the night. The fiercest opposition will certainly come from the Nordic drivers like Østberg, Tänak and, of course, my team-mates Jari-Matti and Andreas.”
Andreas Mikkelsen added: “In previous years we have always had to look after the tyres, but this time we had access to a set of spikes specifically for the Shakedown. The walls of snow along at the sides of the road are particularly high this time, so the route was very narrow. It was anything but easy out there, but this made it a good warm-up for the coming days. Unfortunately you could also see how the conditions were improving with every car.”