Ford team director Malcolm Wilson has praised the efforts of Mads Ostberg, who leads Rally Sweden at the end of the opening day.
Ostberg has never led a World Rally Championship round overnight before and the Fiesta RS WRC driver admitted it was a dream come true. The 23-year-old Norwegian picked up the lead on the first stage this morning when stage one winner P-G Andersson put his Ford on its side in the Vargasen test.
Ostberg's closest challenger is Ford factory driver Mikko Hirvonen, who halved the gap to Ostberg in the day's final stage, when the M-Sport Stobart team driver lost his lamp pod.
"It's incredible to be in this position," said Ostberg. "I have dreamed of this. We are close to Norway here, we have been in Norway today in one stage, and seeing so many fans and so many flags has given me a real lift. It's amazing."
Wilson was effusive in his praise of Ostberg, saying: "He's done a fantastic job today. He hasn't made a mistake all day, he's been very, very good and deserves his lead tonight.
"I'm also delighted for Mikko, he's driven superbly as well. In fact, I'm pretty pleased all 'round – we're at the start of a new technical frontier in the sport and we've got four Fords in the top five!"
Ostberg admitted the loss of his spotlights had caused him problems on the dark final stage.
"I had a heavy landing and they came off, but they were still hanging on the car," he said. "Sometimes, it was OK and they were helping, but sometimes I thought we should switch them off. My worry was that they would spin around, shine into the car and blind me."
Petter Solberg is the leading Citroen driver in third place tonight, almost a minute down on Ostberg.