Thierry Neuville on his way to winning the 2018 Rally of Sweden. Picture: Micke Fransson / TT via AP

Karlstad, Sweden - Belgian Thierry Neuville of Hyundai showed relentless focus to win the atypical "ice and snow" Rally of Sweden on Sunday having led the field since Friday.

Ireland's Craig Breen in a Citroen was second, 19.8s off the pace, with Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen, also in a Citroen, third at 28.3s. World champion Sebastien Ogier finished way down the rankings, complaining of having to go first and clear the route in the snow.

Ogier, who won the season-opener in Monte Carlo in January, finished 11th, 8m50s behind Neuville as his M-Sport Ford Focus failed to overcome having to "sweep" the deep drifts.

Neuville took the lead on Friday morning and was run close for three days before extending his lead with an attack on a special speed stage run on gravel.

"We were not expecting to be so fast this year," he said. "The team and the car made it possible for us to fight for this win."

But the Belgian clearly enjoyed cornering on the ice and snow and was largely faultless over the four days.

After two rallies Neuville tops the leaderboard on 41 points with Ogier second on 30 and Jari-Matti Latvala, seventh in Sweden, third with 23.


1 Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul (Belgium) Hyundai i20 - 2hr52mi13.1s

2 Craig Breen/Scott Martin (Ireland/Britain) Citroen C3 +19.8s

3 Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jaeger (Norway) Hyundai i20) +28.3

4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Finland) Toyota Yaris +45.8

5 Hayden Paddon/Sebastian Marshall (New Zealand/Britain) Hyundai i20 +54.4

6 Mads Ostberg/Torstein Eriksson (Norway) Citroen C3 +1m15.3s

7 Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila (Finland) Toyota Yaris +2m04s

8 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (Finland) Ford Fiesta +2m52.2s

9 Ott Tänak/Martin Jarveoja (Estonia) Toyota Yaris +3m44.4s

10 Elfyn Evans/Daniel Barritt (Britain) Ford Fiesta +5m27.4s

11 Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (France) Ford Fiesta +8m45.4s 

Power Stage (SS19): 

1 Esapekka Lappi (Finland) Toyota Yaris - 5 points

2 Sebastien Ogier (France) Ford Fiesta - 4

3 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Hyundai i20) - 3

4 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Hyundai i20) - 2

5 Ott Tanak (Estonia) Toyota Yaris - 1

Agence France-Presse