M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak goes into the final day of Rally Sweden has taken the lead of the event from Hyundai Motorsports Craig Breen, who lost the lead of the event after a puncture lost the Irishman the lead and speaking following the action, the Estonian commented saying:
“It was a challenging day,” admitted Puma driver Tänak. “We had everything planned for the last two stages – to keep the tyres and make the time up there – but then we lost them, and we had to do the last stage with no studs on one tyre. It’s never comfortable until it’s done. Let’s get to the finish first.”
Speaking following Saturday’s action, Craig Breen commented saying:
“It was important for us to get this morning out of the way. There was a lot of talk yesterday about road position, but thankfully today we could keep a good rhythm, and were happy with the opening loop. We made it into service still in the lead of the rally. We all live for that feeling to be in the fight. I’ve missed it greatly, so I was soaking up every second. Unfortunately, we lost the hybrid quite early in the second stage of the afternoon. We carried that around with us for the rest of the loop, so it was a case of damage limitation. It’s a bit disappointing but that’s how it is. We will get everything back working again for tomorrow; the kilometres are few and the gap is relatively big, but we’ll keep at it and keep our shoulder to the wheel. Overall, it’s still been a good weekend so far, we just need to round it off in the best way we can.”
Hyundai has two drivers in the top three, with Thierry Neuville running in third place speaking following the action he commented saying:
The main difference today has been our road position. Since we got better grip, we have been capable of showing our speed. The lack of pre-event testing probably didn’t help yesterday, but we made a few set-up changes overnight – not too many – and we had a clean run. There was no doubt that we were attacking yesterday, it’s just that our times were masked by the road position. Today, we could set several fastest times and close in on third place. It will continue to be a tough fight with Kalle; nobody will give up and we will certainly give everything we’ve got.”
Hyundai Team Principal Cyril Atibeoul commented on day 2 saying:
We have won five out of the seven stages today, which shows that our car, our team, and all three of our crews have been very competitive. Unfortunately, that has not translated as clearly onto the overall classification, which is disappointing. The main issue arose from EP having a tyre issue on SS13, which left him by the side of the road. We must sit down and work with Pirelli to understand what happened. We are competing at the pinnacle of rallying, pushing the limits, so things can happen. During that moment, Craig had to slow down, clearly losing time that then ultimately lost him the advantage that he’d worked so hard to build up. Additionally, he had lost use of the hybrid which certainly did not help. He was also on the backfoot for tyre allocation for the final stage, which all combined to put us where we are. We knew it would be tough this afternoon, but we are still in the fight, and with Thierry moving up into the podium positions too. We will continue putting everything into this rally, it’s what our crews expect from us and what we expect from them. We need to keep applying the pressure.