Please also see the Rally Sweden 2019 Pace Report.
- Neuville Keeps Narrow Lead From Stage 3
- Mission Impossible for Ogier and Tanak
- Crash with Meeke cost Tanak 2 places
- Craig Breen’s Best 2018 Pace
- Breen & Mikkelsen’s best finishes 2018
- Genius M-Sport decision to check in late on Power Stage wins Ogier certain 4 extra championship points
In general and as is usually the case the opening leg road order defined Rally Sweden. In other words the better a driver’s score in Monte Carlo, the worse off they would be in Sweden. This was particularly true in 2018 as the snow was heavy. The part-season drivers who didn’t feature in Monte had a great time here. Sebastien Ogier had zero chance of a podium and his entire weekend was a build up to the Power Stage. And boy did he ensure that paid off!
Let’s review Rally Sweden with the visual aid of a gPace performance line chart.
The Winner – Thierry Neuville
Thierry Neuville managed to take advantage of the Friday road order’s effects on his strongest rivals. He ended the day with a narrow lead. More importantly he’d worked to put himself in the best position on the road for the rest of the rally. The lead grew slightly as he was able to clinch 4 stage wins on the Saturday. A cruise on the first stage of Sunday was too slow, he would have to put in a stronger finish to keep ahead of second place Craig Breen.
Second – Craig Breen
Craig had his strongest performance of the season in Sweden, both in terms of pace and points. Finishing last in Monte Carlo gave Craig a great position on the Friday to take advantage of the road being ploughed ahead of his run. Of all those drivers further down the road order, he was able to maintain the pace for the rest of the weekend, pipping Andreas Mikkelsen to take 2nd overall.
Third – Andreas Mikkelsen
Also reaping the benefits of not having to plough snow, Andreas ended Day 1 under 5 seconds behind Thierry. Dropping time to Breen on Stage 10, he lost a position which he could never reclaim. However he did manage to reclaim another position he later lost to team mate Paddon as well as fend off Ostberg who came close to challenging.
The Top Seeds
Sebastien Ogier‘s success in Monte cost him the rally in Sweden. Acting as chief snow plough on the Friday left him in no position to set good times and he remained in that position all weekend. A tactical decision to check in late for the Power Stage meant the road was being ploughed for him. Therefore he was able to set second fastest time and salvage 4 points he certainly would not have won had he ran first. Team mate Evans did the same to ensure he held position. Kris Meeke failed to finish the rally, handing Ogier 10th place and another valuable point.
Ott Tanak, second on the road order managed to keep up with the peloton on Friday, albeit on the wrong side. On Saturday morning he aced the first two stages and it looked like he was making ground on the leading pack. Unfortunately his efforts were easily undone and not entirely his fault. On Stage 13, Kris Meeke had a moment in a snow bank that damaged his car and he could only creep through the stage. Ott, the following driver, did not have enough room to pass Meeke. Their cars touched and Tanak was forced off the road. This would cost Tanak 2 positions come the end of the rally.
The Rest of the Field
Esapekka Lappi would have had a brilliant rally but for a mistake on Stage 6 that damaged the car. Second overall before the stage he dropped to seventh which put him up the road order for Saturday. A fine performance on Sunday lifted him two positions and earn 5 points with a superb Power Stage run.
Elfyn Evans had a dreadful Friday which led to a dreadful rally in the wilderness with Ogier on Saturday and Sunday. Not even the late check in tactic employed by Ogier for the Power Stage paid off.
Kris Meeke also had a dreadful start and could not set any great times before his incident took him out the rally. A strong start to Sunday didn’t follow him to the Power Stage and he didn’t classify in the rally results.
Elsewhere, Hayden Paddon and Mads Ostberg took great advantage of the road order to secure great points. Both were able to set good times and Paddon won two stages. However they didn’t want to risk a non-finish and Esapekka Lappi was able to overtake both of them on the final day.
View the full results at eWRC. Please note all penalties have been applied between the final stage and the overall time. This will be fixed for 2019 reports.
If you enjoyed this review, take a look at Monte Carlo, Rally Mexico or Tour de Corse 2018. Or consider following Pushing Pace on twitter for more 2018 Reviews and lots more exciting content to come for the 2019 season. I’d be most grateful if you could like or share with your friends. I’d love to hear your opinions, disagreements or other comments – Twitter @WRCStan or @PushingPace.
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