Toyota‘s Ott Tänak takes a 28.8-second advantage into the second day of Wales Rally GB after another dominant performance on Friday.
The Estonian won two of the three repeated stages and is now ahead of championship leader, and rival Thierry Neuville, the Belgian moving up the order as others fell by the wayside, and he then went on to set the pace in the final stage. He heads Jari-Matti Latvala, who dropped to third in the second stage after hitting a rock, breaking the windscreen and then taking it cautiously. He is however only 2.5 seconds adrift of the Hyundai sandwiching the Toyotas.
Tänak’s pace continues to be impressive over the wet and muddy Welsh stages, and even though he set the fastest time in the first two stages, his advantage also increased when second-placed Elfyn Evans was forced out before the beginning of the repeated tests with an engine misfire on the Fiesta.
Latvala, therefore, assumed second but dropped the position to Neuville when he hit the rock. Tänak’s only problem during the day was a puncture in the second stage, and the Estonian was rightly pleased with a good day at the office as his advantage increased from 8.9 seconds at the mid-leg service to 28.8 seconds overnight.
Neuville was happier with the handling of his i20 Coupe WRC this afternoon and has pushed hard throughout the day to head Latvala by 2.5 seconds tonight.
To add to M-Sport Ford’s disappointment with Evans, Teemu Suninen was also forced out of the team’s home event. The Finn, third after the first of the afternoon stages, had a spin in the next one and then hit a rock, damaged the suspension and went off the road into retirement.
As such, Esapekka Lappi has moved into fourth in the third Toyota. He has not had a trouble-free afternoon; he admitted to a lack of bravery on the mud and was then lucky to escape a spin into a bank in the final stage of the day. Sébastien Ogier has recovered from eighth at lunchtime to fifth and will now be chasing down Lappi, the pair split by 2.3 seconds.
Craig Breen has finally broken his Friday curse and made it through the day without issues. He struggled with his road position but gave it everything en route to sixth, Hayden Paddon is seventh just two seconds ahead of Mads Østberg, the Norwegian also lucky to escape damage after running wide up a mud bank.
Andreas Mikkelsen is slightly further adrift in ninth, the car working better for him this afternoon and he rounds out the WRC contenders.
Finnish sensation Kalle Rovanperä continues to blitz the opposition in the FIA WRC 2 Championship. The 18-year-old set fastest time in all three stages and amazingly heads reigning category champion and 2017 winner Pontus Tidemand by nearly a minute. Britain’s Gus Greensmith holds third, 7.7 seconds further behind.
Tom Williams is also dominating the WRC3 two-wheel drive category, and the Briton is now over three minutes ahead of Enrico Brazzoli after Taisko Lario dropped nearly five minutes in the second stage.
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