Thierry Neuville was the man to beat at the second round of the WRC 2018 season, Rally Sweden where the Hyundai driver won the event and effectively took the championship lead from Sebastien Ogier. He became the third different non-Nordic driver to win the event which also happens to be the only pure winter rally on the calendar. Neuville crashed out of the lead during last year’s event, his win this year was surely deserved.
Craig Breen finished second for Citroen while Andreas Mikkelsen finished third to give Hyundai a double podium. Neuville began the event on a high, winning topping Friday’s stages while two other Hyundai drivers, Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon finished the day in second and third respectively. Stage openers like Ogier had the worst of it all, clearing fresh snow and losing valuable time. Eventually, the defending world champion failed to make up for the time lost and finished the event in eleventh place.
Saturday was no different for Neuville, despite having to deal with troubled paddle shifters, the Hyundai driver still topped the day’s standings. His main rival was Breen who was eyeing for his first WRC win. Mikkelsen spun his car and dropped to fourth but still managed to get back into third after passing Paddon.
Esapekka Lappi finished fourth for Toyota leading Paddon and Citroen’s Mads Ostberg. Jari Matti Latvala placed the other Toyota Yaris WRC in seventh place, ahead of Teemu Suninen in the best ranked Ford Fiesta WRC. Ott Tanak was ninth for Toyota.
The next round will see the first gravel event of the season at Rally Guanajuato Mexico on March 8th.