Mikko Hirvonen has taken the lead of the Rally Sweden from Sebastien Loeb, while Petter Solberg has tumbled down the order following an error and an incident with Matthew Wilson.
Loeb lost 10sec to Hirvonen on SS5 and fell to third behind his Citroen teammate Dani Sordo. The World Rally Champion said his only problem was that the stage had been affected by cars passing through on the first loop this morning.
"Just the road conditions. A lot of ruts with snow in them," said Loeb. "I expected these conditions and I knew I had no chance. I tried as much as I could. I took more risks than on the first run, but the time is not good. I don't like driving in these conditions, so maybe I'm making some mistakes."
Despite moving into the lead, Hirvonen is concerned that Loeb will be stronger on the next two stages.
"This might cost me a lot," said the Ford driver. "Conditions were so bad that I could've been too hard for the tires and Sebastien could have been saving his. When I knew that we were quite a lot in front, I slowed down a bit to save the tires, but maybe the damage has already been done."
There was also drama farther down the order, as Petter Solberg – who had been running ninth – went off the road and lost nearly five minutes, and then made contact with Stobart Ford's Matthew Wilson later on the stage.
"He hit us. He went off at 12 kilometers, got back on, we followed him in his snow for ages," Wilson explained. "He overshot a junction, we stalled under braking, started up and next thing there's a clout up the rear, and it's damaged the suspension."
Solberg admitted the incident was his fault. "We had understeer, went off the road and lost a lot of time," said Solberg. "Then he went off in front of us. I hit him, that's why he's damaged on the back. I'm trying too hard."
The stage also saw both fifth-placed Sebastien Ogier (Citroen Junior) and sixth-placed Marcus Gronholm (Stobart Ford) delayed by overshoots, although they quickly rejoined in the same order. There were more serious problems for Mads Ostberg, who suffered engine issues in his Adapta Subaru and then went off the road briefly, dropping him from seventh to ninth.
"The engine, I don't know what it is. I had plenty of alarms in the stage," said Ostberg. "The power went away and I was too unfocused and we went off."
The problems ahead have moved Kimi Raikkonen (Citroen Junior) up to 10th among the WRC entrants, although he is 11th overall behind S2000 class leader P-G Andersson's Skoda.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap
1. Mikko Hirvonen Ford 45m35.0s
2. Dani Sordo Citroen + 6.3s
3. Sebastien Loeb Citroen + 6.7s
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 28.0s
5. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 47.2s
6. Marcus Gronholm Ford + 1m06.0s
7. Henning Solberg Ford + 1m17.3s
8. Matthew Wilson Ford + 2m16.8s
9. Mads Ostberg Subaru + 2m36.7s
10. P-G Andersson Skoda + 2m42.9s