An intense battle is underway in Sweden! Oliver Solberg holds a narrow lead – “It’s crazy that we’re fighting for tenths of a second”

Oliver Solberg continues to lead the Royal Rally of Scandinavia after Friday's driving day.
Hayden Paddon. Photo: @world/Red Bull Content Pool
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New Zealander Hayden Paddon is, however, very close behind. The gap between the top two is only 3.3 seconds. Last year’s winner in his home country, Solberg, was not satisfied with the behaviour of his car on Friday.

“I thought I had a puncture on the left rear, it felt so loose. I can’t say that the feeling was very good today. Tomorrow the car should suit the stages better. Hopefully, we can push a bit then,” Solberg pondered.

Last year’s European champion Paddon has fought strongly against Solberg, who is driving on his home roads.

“As (Mikko) Heikkilä would say, every stage is like a time trial. It’s crazy that we’re fighting for just tenths of a second on each stage. Whenever I try to push, I lose the rear of the car. Tomorrow should suit us better,” Paddon reflected.

Mikko Heikkilä, who is in third place, commented just as former WRC driver Paddon speculated. The battle at the top is indeed intense. Heikkilä is 12.7 seconds behind the leader.

“It’s all just time trial stages. I didn’t expect such a tight fight, but it’s great. Even though we’re not the fastest, I’m really enjoying it,” Heikkilä said.

Behind Heikkilä in fourth place is the European Championship leader, Frenchman Mathieu Franceschi, who is only 4.2 seconds behind the Finnish driver. Latvia’s Martins Sesks is in fifth place, 3.1 seconds behind Franceschi.

In sixth place is Norwegian Frank Tore Larsen, driving a rather old Volkswagen R5 car. Behind Larsen is former WRC driver Mads Østberg, driving a Citroën, who is 27.8 seconds off the lead.

The top ten is completed by the host country’s Isak Reiersen, Poland’s Miko Marczyk, and Norway’s Eyvind Brynildsen.

The final day of the Royal Rally of Scandinavia is on Saturday, with eight special stages remaining.

Standings in Royal Rally of Scandinavia after SS9/17:

1. Oliver SolbergSkoda41:21.9
2.Hayden PaddonHyundai+3.3
3.Mikko HeikkiläToyota+12.7
4. Mathieu FranceschiSkoda+16.9
5.Martins SesksToyota+20.0
6.Frank Tore LarsenVW+21.7
7.Mads ÖstbergCitroen+27.8
8.Isak ReiersenSkoda+37.8
9.Miko MarczykSkoda+47.9
10.Eyvind BrynildsenVW+50.5
11.Andrea MabelliniSkoda+1:00.8
12.Simone TempestiniSkoda+1:01.3

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