Local heroes Pontus Tidemand and Emil Axelsson are the overnight leaders of Rally Sweden having piloted their Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta RRC to the fastest time through this evening's opening super special stage at Karlstad's Färjestad Trotting Course.
Making the most of his early starting position, the Swede beat the entire field to claim an early and immensely popular lead.
Following the perfect start to their home event, Tidemand and Axelsson will now focus on securing victory in the FIA World Rally Championship's premier support series (WRC 2).
Pontus Tidemand (1st) said:
"I really enjoyed that – I always do. Everything felt good and we couldn't have made a more perfect start to our home event. It was great to see so many spectators out supporting us, and I think we gave the home crowd something to cheer about tonight!"
Ott Tänak (6th) said:
"It's a tricky little stage and quite slippery in places, but it felt good and there were no surprises. I'm happy with that and now we can look forward to tomorrow's stages."
Elfyn Evans (22nd) said:
"We had too much wheelspin off the line. It's a tricky stage so I'm happy to have made it through unscathed and now our focus turns to tomorrow when the rally really gets underway."
M-Sport Managing Director, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
"I don't think there could have been a more popular overnight leader than the one we have here tonight. Pontus [Tidemand] and Emil [Axelsson] made the perfect start. To beat the entire world rally car field – regardless of road position – is no mean feat and I hope tonight's result spurs them on as they battle for the win in WRC 2."