Ott Tänak, in the DMACK World Rally Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC, proved to be Sebastién Ogier’s main rival on Day 1 of the 2016 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
The Estonian finished day one in second place +37.7 seconds behind the four-time World Rally Champion.
He was the only driver to get near to Ogier’s pace-winning SS3 and SS4 and was only +7.7 seconds behind at midday service.
However, in the afternoon loop, suspension issues and a puncture in the final stage of the day dropped him back.
“We had some problems with the rear suspension, something may be loose. Sometimes the wheel is open, I don’t know why it’s like this.”, he said.
Despite these issues, he retained second and holds a comfortable +31.8 second gap over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.
The tricky conditions suited the Estonian perfectly – proving how much he has developed over the past 12 months.
He is also well ahead of the M-Sport official drivers, Mads Østberg and Eric Camilli, who are seventh and eleventh respectively.
With two more days of rallying left to go, a home victory for M-Sport remains well within their grasp.
M-Sport Team Principal Malcolm Wilson OBE was full of praise for Tänak’s performance.
“We’ve seen another fantastic performance from Ott today. Once again, he’s proven that we are capable of challenging for victories and it’s made all the more special at our home event.
“It was unfortunate that he lost some time on the last stage. However, there is another very long and challenging day tomorrow when anything can happen.
“As we’ve seen today, there has been quite a lot of drama, and that could well continue.”