(Reuters) – Estonian Ott Tanak took the early lead in Rally Sweden on Thursday after winning the opening super special stage in Karlstad.
The Toyota driver completed the 1.9km course around a trotting track, and in front of cheering crowds, with a time three tenths of a second quicker than Finnish team mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
“This is one of my favorite events and especially this year because there’s so much snow,” said Tanak.
“It’s nice to start with the two quickest times but we know that the real Rally Sweden begins tomorrow,” added team technical director Tom Fowler.
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier, in an M-Sport Ford, was ninth with just 2.9 seconds separating the top 10.
Sweden, the only full winter rally on the calendar, is the second round of the championship after last month’s Monte Carlo opener.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Greg Stutchbury)