Toyota’s Ott Tanak took a dominant victory in 2019 FIA World Rally Championship’s Rally Sweden round as the Estonian takes over the points lead.
Tanak with co-driver Martin Jarveoja led the way from SS2 until SS4 but fell back to second with M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen (co-driver Marko Salminen) but the Finn dropped out at the start of Saturday run with Tanak taking over the lead again.
The first day also saw Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville (co-driver Nicloas Gilsoul) and Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala (co-driver Miikka Anttila) in lead with the former actually winning SS1. Tanak won SS2 and SS4 with Suninen taking SS3 and SS6 to his name.
Once Tanak regained the lead, the Estonian pulled away handsomely with wins in SS12, SS13 and SS15 while his rivals around him suffered troubles. Already, the first day caught out M-Sport’s Sebastien Ogier (co-driver Julian Ingrassia) and Latvala.
The day also saw WRC returnee Marcus Gronholm (co-driver Timo Rautiainen) suffer a similar fate – in fact, all three drivers suffered similar fate as they crashed into a snow bank but they returned under Rally 2 conditions on Saturday.
Tanak held his nerve and saw it through on the final day on Sunday to win Rally Sweden after also winning the Power Stage with the Estonian holding 53.7s advantage over Citroen’s Esapekka Lappi (co-driver Janne Ferm).
The Finn had Neuville chasing him to the finish after the Belgian recovered from Friday slump to end up third as he leap-frogged teammate Andreas Mikkelsen (co-driver Anders Jaeger-Amland) on Sunday which helps in gaining more points.
M-Sport’s Elfyn Evans (co-driver Scott Martin) had a solid run to be fifth overall with the British racer winning SS5, SS7 and SS18 to keep Citroen’s charge ahead after Ogier’s troubles. Toyota’s Kris Meeke (co-driver Sebastian Marshall was a distant sixth.
The British racer had Hyundai’s Sebastian Loeb (co-driver Daniel Elena) behind him with M-Sport’s Pontus Tidemand (co-driver Ola Floene) recovering from early troubles to be eighth in WRC class – the last driver of the senior category in Top 10.
The troubles for Citroen’s Ogier meant he lost the points lead to Tanak, who sits at the top with 47 to his name after two rallies with Neuville in second with 40. The Frenchman finished 29th overall with wins in SS10, SS11 and SS14.
Toyota’s Latvala ended up 21st with the Finn winning SS9 and SS17 as Gronholm was 38th overall in his recovery drive in the WRC class.