(Reuters) - Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was on course to win Rally Sweden after leading Citroen’s Craig Breen by 22.7 seconds with only three short stages remaining on Sunday.
The Belgian took four stage wins on Saturday, stretching the lead he took on Friday in the only full winter event on the calendar.
Just 51.94km of competitive action remain, with Neuville set to become only the third non-Nordic driver to win in snowy Sweden.
Hyundai started the day with the top three cars but Irishman Breen, who has yet to win a round of the world championship, forced his way into the reckoning with his third stage win of the rally.
Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen was in third place for Hyundai with Kiwi team mate Hayden Paddon in fourth.
“Things have gone pretty much to plan today and we can be pleased with our day overall,” said Neuville.
“We had a bit of a stressful start this morning after a technical issue in the first stage and a spin in the second, which cost us some time. After that, though, we were able to increase the gap stage by stage.”
France’s world champion and three-times Rally Sweden winner Sebastien Ogier, who won last month’s Monte Carlo opener, was in 10th place for M-Sport Ford, four minutes and 24 seconds off the lead.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Neville Dalton