The last practice session before this evening's official start of Rally Sweden provided Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT with an opportunity to make a few final set-up adjustments. Back in the Citroën squad for this weekend, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen confirmed that they had got to grips with the C3 WRC quickly as they set the second fastest time, whilst Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle, and Craig Breen and Scott Martin also showed good pace, finishing fourth and eighth respectively.
This morning's 6.86 kilometre-long shakedown stage was contested on perfect, snow-covered roads around Skalla. Lined with big snow banks, and despite being a little bit bumpier than the stages to be contested over the weekend, it proved to be fairly representative of what lies in store for the competitors.
The Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT crews completed five runs with this final practice session also enabling the team to review various set-up options and build on the work done during the four days of pre-event testing last week.
The rally is due to start this evening on the Karlstad racecourse with a 1.90km-long super special stage. However, the real action gets under way tomorrow with the longest leg of the rally (140.1km of timed stages), split between Sweden and Norway.
Kris Meeke commented: "At the start of the shakedown, I wasn't feeling very confident. I felt more comfortable on the second pass and in the end, my time is fairly competitive. Since last year, obviously we have learned lessons and improved the C3 WRC. But we know that our competitors have improved too. So we'll just have to wait for the first few stage times and see where we stand, especially as road position is going to have an impact. In any case, I'm pleased with my car. The target for me is to keep being consistent and try to come away from Sweden with some more points in the bag."
Craig Breen added: "The start of the shakedown wasn't easy for us. The conditions were fairly different to those we had in testing last week and I was a bit short of grip at the rear of my C3 WRC. But we managed to adapt the set-up as we completed more runs, and we finished on a positive note."
1, Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:17.3
2, Ostberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:17.6
3, Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:18.1
4, Meeke / Nagle (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:18.3
5, Tänak / Jarveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:18.7
6, Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 4:18.8
7, Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 4:19.0
8, Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 4:19.1
9, Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:19.2
10, Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 4:19.3