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Heikkilä in a tight podium battle after opening day in Sweden

Mikko Heikkilä finds himself in fourth place after the opening day of the Swedish ERC Rally. Wrestling with the car's settings on the opening day of the rally, Heikkilä is just 0.8 seconds away from a podium position heading into the final day.

Mikko Heikkilä, accompanied by his co-driver Samu Vaaleri, sits in fourth place after the opening day of the Royal Rally of Scandinavia in Sweden. The Skoda driver from The Racing Factory team spent the first day searching for grip on the fast gravel roads of Sweden. After the opening loop, Heikkilä was in fifth place overall.

"The car's settings didn't quite hit the mark, and we're having issues with grip. We've been pushing and using every inch of the road. Let's see if we can adjust the balance a bit to avoid oversteering so much. The fight for the top positions may be slipping away, but there's no point in sulking," reflected Heikkilä after the opening loop.

During the second loop, Heikkilä gradually found a more comfortable rhythm with his car. Adjustments to the car's settings paid off, resulting in two third-fastest times and the second-fastest time on the final stage of the day.

"It seems to be too common that we initially wonder what's wrong, and then we manage to hit the target, but by that time, we've already lost some ground. We couldn't find these things during testing, and admittedly the test road wasn't the best. The car was oversteering in every corner, and it would only stabilize after the corner had passed. Now, with the suspension adjustments, the car was playing along on the last stage, and on the penultimate one, it was already close. But it's quite frustrating when our outings seem to follow this pattern," sighed Heikkilä.

Approaching the final day of the rally, Heikkilä plans to employ the same tactics as on the opening day. The proven car settings will mostly be retained for the last day.

"We're definitely aiming for the podium. I've given it my all throughout the day, so we'll continue in the same manner. The adjustments from the last stage will remain tomorrow, and we'll try to make the most of what we have," revealed Heikkilä.

The ERC Royal Rally of Scandinavia continues July 8th with eight special stages covering a total of 76.42 kilometers. The competition can be followed through the ERC+ service with a WRC+ subscription, as well as the Cmore streaming platform.

Overall standings after 8/16 special stages:

1. Oliver Solberg 51:12,4 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

2. Hayden Paddon +10,2 Hyundai i20 N Rally2

3. Frans Tore Larsen +45,6 Volkswagen Polo GTI R5

4. Mikko Heikkilä +46,4 Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

5. Nikolay Gryazin +50,5 Skoda Fabia Rally2 Evo

Saturday 8.7. – 76,42 km

07:23 SS9 – Tomten 1 8,29 km

08:08 SS10 – Tolita 1 9,52 km

08:59 SS11 – Gårdsjö 1 11,39 km

10:05 SS12 – Collins 1 9,01 km

13:23 SS13 – Tomten 2 8,29 km

14:08 SS14 – Tolita 2 9,52 km

14:59 SS15 – Gårdsjö 2 11,39 km

16:50 SS16 – Collins 2 9,01 km (Power Stage)

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