by M.C. – photo: wrc.com | The outcome of Rally Sweden 2018 was almost as spectacular as its white backdrop: Thierry Neuville became the third non Scandinavian driver in history to win it. The other two legendary drivers to achieve such feat have been Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier. In this occasion, Hyundai’s Belgian hero gave the best of himself and sealed a solid victory after three days of competition.
Despite Neuville being free from the stress of opening the curse (Unlike Ogier who was the championship’s leader), his triumph was no walk in the park. The Belgian driver was at all times under relentless pressure from his chasing rivals, who finished just a few seconds behind. Citroën’s Irish driver Craig Breen arrived in second position and at only 19,8 seconds from Neuville, and the Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen, from Hyundai, finished third at 28,3 seconds from the winner.
The biggest losers of Rally Sweden were the other two favourites to the title: Ford’s French driver Ogier and the Estonian Ott Tänak whose performance on-board is Toyota was not up to scratch despite some positive initial sensations.
New championship leader
After this triumph, and considering its distance from Ogier (10th) and Tänak (9th), Neuville is in a very comfortable leading position at the WRC, followed by the French champion and Jari-Matti Latvala. The next test will take place in Mexico in three weeks time when Dani Sordo is expected to race and legendary Loeb is scheduled to make a come back.
Results of Rally Sweden:
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 2h52’13”
- Craig Breen (Irl/Citroën), at 19.8”
- Andreas Mikkelsen (Nor/Hyundai), at 28.3’’
- Esapekka Lappi (Fin/Toyota), at 45.8”
- Hayden Paddon (Nzl/Hyundai), at 54.4”
Driver’s standings WRC:
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 41 points
- Sébastien Ogier (Fra/Ford) 31 points
- Esapekka Lappi (Fin/Toyota) 23 points
- Jari-Matti Latvala (Fin/Toyota) 23 points
- Ott Tänak (Est/Toyota) 21 points