Wales WRC: Title contender Tanak storms into lead

Ott Tanak boosted his 2018 World Rally Championship title hopes by leading Wales Rally GB after Friday morning's stages in pursuit of his fourth win in a row.

Wales WRC: Title contender Tanak storms into lead

Tanak crushed his opposition with three stage wins in a row to start the day.

Crucially, he took victory on the the longest stage, Brenig, by a decent margin as his title rivals Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville then hit trouble on the following stage.

Tanak's advantage was boosted by two spins for Ogier as a gearbox problem meant he lost first and second gear.

Hyundai's Neuville lost around a second by overshooting the corner of a junction "a little bit", and had no answer to Tanak.

Neuville would hit back on the two short Slate Mountain runs - affected by heavy rain, fog and loose stones - winning the first stage to claw time back to Tanak, whereas Ogier fell further away from his two rival title contenders.

Citroen-bound Ogier finished the first run over three seconds slower than the duo and last of all WRC runners.

He then lost further time on the second Slate Mountain run to fall to seventh overall, leading Ogier to call his morning a "disaster".

The M-Sport Ford driver heads to the service park for repairs after falling 27.9s away from Tanak's pacesetting overall time.

WRC points leader Neuville is two places higher than Ogier in the overall order, lying fifth and 21.8s off Tanak's rally lead.

The 2017 Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans finished the morning loop second overall, 8.9s off, after proving to be the only driver able to get within three seconds of Tanak on the long Brenig stage.

Evans could potentially have gone faster if not for some flashing lights on the dashboard of his Ford that proved both distracting and a false alarm.

Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala put some pressure on Evans by finishing a close second to Tanak in the fourth stage, Penmanchno, and followed that result with two strong Slate Mountain runs, winning the second attempt to trail Evans by 6.5s in third overall.

Teemu Suninen was fourth ahead of Neuville, with the struggling Esapekka Lappi recovering from a lack of confidence in his Toyota to haul it into sixth.

Citroen's Mads Ostberg was eighth behind Ogier, with Hayden Paddon and Andreas Mikkelsen rounding out the top 10.

Rising star Kalle Rovanpera stunned the WRC2 field with a Brenig run that was 23.7s faster than the second-quickest car in the stage driven by Tom Cave.

He holds a comfortable margin of 37.9s over Skoda's Pontus Tidemand heading into the afternoon.

Several drivers complained of understeer and changeable grip through the early stages, with Latvala one to suggest that pre-event testing had not matched the rally's conditions.

shares
comments
Wales WRC: Toyota's Lappi takes early lead

Previous article

Wales WRC: Toyota's Lappi takes early lead

Next article

Wales WRC: In-form Tanak dominates opening day

Wales WRC: In-form Tanak dominates opening day
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Prime

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
29m
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Prime

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Prime

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up.

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Prime

Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021