Corsica WRC: Tanak leads as Loeb hits trouble
World Rally Championship points leader Ott Tanak has established an early lead on the Tour of Corsica, but is only 1.3 seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans.
Tanak wasn't particularly happy with his driving on the opening stage but responded by taking the lead on stage two courtesy of a second fastest time through the test.
He then took his first stage win of the rally to conclude the morning at the head of the pack in his Toyota.
M-Sport driver Evans was the quickest man on the opening stage by almost three seconds but dropped behind Tanak's Toyota on stage two.
The M-Sport driver lost a further 0.7s on stage three but heads to the midday tyre-fitting zone in a confident mood, admitting he wasn't surprised with his pace.
Thierry Neuville was frustrated with the handling of his Hyundai i20, but lies third overall after a consistent morning, just 3.5s behind the rally leader.
Neuville was embroiled in a close battle with teammate Dani Sordo for the final podium place, holding a 4.1s advantage over the Spaniard, who is fourth.
Teemu Suninen, who is under instruction to finish the rally after retiring in Mexico, is fifth overall for M-Sport ahead of compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala, who was frustrated with his pace notes that were "too slow" for the Corsican stages.
The two Citroen drivers were expected to be the pace-setters in Corsica, but both Rally Mexico winner Sebastien Ogier and teammate Esapekka Lappi suffered spins throughout the morning.
Lappi was fifth heading into stage three but has fallen to seventh, spinning his C3 on the exit of a hairpin half-way through the third test.
Ogier made a similar mistake on the morning's opening stage. The defending champion struggled for pace thereafter, not happy with the set-up in his Citroen C3, and finds himself 24s behind the rally leader and one second behind his teammate in eighth.
Kris Meeke was fastest on stage two and just 0.5s shy of teammate Tanak on stage three, but is down in ninth after a puncture on the opening stage.
The British driver made a mistake on the recce and had a "keep in" instruction in his pace notes, but the fast left-hander bit back and punctured the front-left tyre of his Yaris.
The returning Sebastien Loeb was another to suffer drama on stage one, dropping a shave under two minutes after breaking a steering arm on his Hyundai i20.
Loeb crawled through the stage after sliding wide on a left hander and damaging the right-rear corner, carrying out urgent repairs immediately after the stage. The nine-time champion had dropped to 49th place but has recovered to 14th.
Meeke: “I have confidence and now I have to use it”
Corsica WRC: Meeke run-in costs Evans lead