Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson says his squad faced its toughest ever strategic decisions in Sweden this afternoon, as the World Rally Championship builds up to one of its most exciting days ever tomorrow with five drivers all within 15 seconds of the lead.
Ford appears to have landed the near-perfect position, with Mikko Hirvonen out front and Jari-Matti Latvala fourth on the road, but just 11.8sec behind his teammate.
The teams' tactical decisions were complicated by a 10sec penalty received by Petter Solberg for arriving late at the start of SS10. Solberg is hoping the stewards will remove the penalty, after the Norwegian claimed he was held up by two snow scooters on the way into the test. If the penalty is rescinded, Solberg will lead the rally as he is currently 9sec behind Hirvonen in third. Ford chose to allow Hirvonen to keep pushing while Latvala backed off to get a better road position for tomorrow.
"They were the most complicated decisions we ever had to take," said Wilson. "It was unbelievable, there were so many variables. And there still are, if Petter's penalty gets removed. We decided Mikko should just go for it and then dropping Jari back covers us there as well.
"The one thing which is certain is that we're in for an incredible day tomorrow. Five drivers in 15 seconds is unbelievable – it's going to be one of the most exciting days in the sport."
Hirvonen leads from Mads Ostberg, with Solberg third, Hirvonen fourth and Sebastien Ogier fifth.