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Toni Gardemeister leads the Swedish Rally in his Mitsubishi Lancer WRC after the first Super Special Stage.

The Finn set a time of 1m:31.9s, ahead of Marcus Gronholm in the leading Ford Focus.

 

Monte Carlo winner Sebastien Loeb had an evening to forget in his Citroen C4 as he languished down the timesheets in 21st place, some eight seconds off the pace, after stalling his car on the start line.

 

Petter Solberg and the Subaru outfit were on top form as the Norwegian set the third fastest time, just a tenth slower than Gronholm and third fastest overall. Team-mate Chris Atkinson had a bad stage and is only 13th.

 

Mikko Hirvonen was fourth fastest in the second Ford Focus, less than two seconds behind Gardemeister, while Jari-Matti Latvala did a fine job to record the fifth fastest time on this stage. Patrick Flodin was next up in his Subaru ahead of Monte Carlo runner–up Dani Sordo in his Citroen.

 

Manfred Stohl, fresh from a very troubled run with OMV last time out was seventh fastest Xsara ahead of Gigi Galli and Henning Solberg in his Focus.

The Swedish Rally continues Friday night (Australian time).

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