ON TOP: Ott Tänak in action during last year's Rally Australia.
ON TOP: Ott Tänak in action during last year's Rally Australia. Red Bull Media

Estonian on fire in the winter snow

MOTORSPORT: Toyota's Ott Tänak is leading the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in his career after a commanding victory at Rally Sweden on Sunday.

Tänak eased his Toyota Yaris through the short final leg on snow and ice-covered roads to win the second round of the season by 53.7sec.

The Estonian's success has carried him into a seven-point lead in the championship, which will finish at Kennards Hire Rally Australia on the Coffs Coast on November 14-17.

Tänak led the four-day event early but slipped back as conditions turned against him on Friday afternoon.

He regained the initiative on Saturday, and when closest rival Teemu Suninen spun into the snow, Tänak inherited a comfortable half-minute lead before cruising to victory on the Sunday.

Tänak became the fourth non-Scandinavian driver to win the championship's only pure winter rally and dedicated his success to mentor and countryman Markko Märtin.

"I know how hard my very good friend Markko was pushing to win here in Sweden and he was once very close. So I'm happy that we finally did it and we have this win in the team now,” said Tänak, for whom this was a seventh WRC triumph.

Esapekka Lappi and Thierry Neuville completed the podium.

Current world title holder Sebastien Ogier had his hopes dashed on Friday afternoon after getting stuck in a snowbank.

Ogier was able to resume racing on Saturday but had to begin in 46th position.

Tänak (47), Neuville (40) and Ogier (31) are leading the world title race.