Tänak extends his Sweden lead over Breen

He now has an 11.6 second advantage over Craig Breen

WRC 2023

Ott Tänak has taken an important step forward towards a Rally Sweden victory as he beat Craig Breen on Sunday morning’s first stage to extend his lead into double figures.

Västervik, which will be repeated as the next stage after a 15-minute service, was the first of Breen’s three opportunities to take the lead back that he lost on Saturday.

The Hyundai driver trailed M-Sport pilot Tänak by 8.6 seconds at the start of the leg but heads back to service with a 11.6s deficit – not content with his start to the morning.

“I tried to be as committed as I could but just one or two places I was just too hesitant, and unfortunately this is the game we’re at we need to be 11 tenths all the time,” Breen said.

“But we’re here with no mistakes, that’s important.”

Tänak, who hasn’t ever felt fully comfortable with his Ford Puma Rally1, was the second fastest on SS16 but crucially beat Breen by three seconds.

“The beginning was OK but in the middle I lost the brakes, so the twisty part, the second part, was quite tricky to be honest,” said Tänak.

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Thierry Neuville began Rally Sweden’s final day with 3.8s in hand over reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä, and expected a big fight to retain his third position.

But it was advantage Rovanperä on the day’s opening stage as Neuville’s advantage was slashed down to 1.1s – despite Rovanperä having a “small issue” he wouldn’t elaborate on the road section before the stage.

“On the narrow section I could have been a bit more clean, I’ve been struggling a bit the whole weekend on the narrow, small section,” said the Toyota driver.

“But we had a small issue on the road section, small mess before the stage but finally everything was OK on the stage.”

Neuville dropped 2.7s to Rovanperä who won the stage, but he wasn’t worried.


“I had a good stage but obviously he was on four new studs I was only on two new, so I should have better tires for the afternoon loop hopefully,” he said.

“It was an OK stage but not a big push.”

Elfyn Evans and Pierre-Louis Loubet remain fifth and sixth – both off the pace, preferring to take things cautiously with nothing to fight for.

Esapekka Lappi meanwhile has climbed back into the points-paying top 10 following his off into a snowbank on Saturday.