Update: Henning Solberg Fastest in Rally Sweden Shakedown

Seven-time world champion Sebastien Loeb will be the first driver to start this weekend's Rally Sweden, after setting the fastest time in the Thursday shakedown stage, early in the morning.

Although he wasn't the first driver to take the route in Sweden, the Frenchman was indeed the fastest rally man at the end of the stage, stopping the clocks at 2:17.1. This means the reigning world champion is actually the first driver to set a fastest stage time in the new era of the World Rally Championship.

He took his brand new Citroen DS3 WRC through the snowy roads of the 2.5-mile course near Hagfors some 1.5 seconds faster than his new teammate Sebastien Ogier, setting up the prospect of an interesting inter-team battle for the weekend.

Following the two Citroen works drivers was Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, who provided the audience with the first on-stage comparison between the two main challengers for the 2011 title, the DS3 WRC and the Fiesta RS WRC. The Finn was 3.3 seconds off the pace of Loeb, and will start today's running 3rd on the list.

The weather conditions in Sweden are just as expected for this time of year, with the shakedown being delayed by 14 minutes due to heavy snow. However, according to weather reports, things will cool down in the days to come.

The first super stage of the 2011 Rally Sweden will take place later today, starting 20:00, when the drivers will take their cars to the Farjestad Trotting course in Karlstad after the opening ceremony of the event.

UPDATE: The aforementioned stage times were scored after the first run of the shakedown. Overall, it was Henning Solberg who scored the fastest time, 2:02.5, one tenth of a second ahead of Ford's Mikko Hirvonen. Third was Petter Solberg, followed by Sebastien Loeb.

Check out shakedown times below, in the PDF attached to this story.
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 Download: Rally Sweden shakedown (PDF)


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