Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT’s Ott Tänak has a 26.8 second lead at the top of the Rally de España standings as his championship rivals suffered from their earlier starting positions.
Tänak only won one stage on the Spanish gravel on Friday, but the Estonian finished consistently high up the timesheets across the six stages and leads home hero Dani Sordo who sits in second for the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team at the end of day two.
Rally leader Tanak said on his day’s performance: “Nothing is done yet, but still it was a tricky day I would say. The beginning of the afternoon the car was really good, but later on I started to struggle and I don’t know why yet.”
His championship rivals struggled, with Thierry Neuville and Sébastien Ogier both having to sweep the gravel on each stage. Neuville also had a moment when he overshot a corner adding to his problems. Ogier sits in seventh and Neuville ninth at the end of Friday but with tarmac stages ahead, the pair are expected to move up the standings over the rest of the weekend.
Elfyn Evans lies third having been leapfrogged by Sordo on the final stage of the day where he dropped 8 seconds on the Spaniard, while Sébastien Loeb sits in fourth after an afternoon fightback from ninth following understeering issues with his Citroen C3 WRC.
Jari-Matti Latvala was another man to make a comeback; the Finn had been challenging teammate Tänak for the lead before a puncture on stage four cost him over 30 seconds and he dropped to tenth, before a string of fine stage times including two wins in the afternoon saw him recover to fifth by Friday evening.
Andreas Mikkelsen rounds out the top six, with Ogier close behind in seventh. Craig Breen was running higher up the standings before a broken spoiler late on Friday cost him time and he fell to eighth while Neuville and Esapekka Lappi, who went off the road several times on Friday mornings loop of stages completed the top 10.
WRC returnee Ken Block crashed on the final stage of the day, putting his Ford Fiesta WRC on its side, being forced to retire as a result.
Volkswagen Motorsport leads the way in WRC2
On its competitive debut, Eric Camilli leads WRC2 in the Volkswagen Polo R5 while teammate 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg sits in third in the sister car.
Camilli continued where he left off on Thursday evening with the win on stage two this morning before Solberg got in on the act two runs later, giving Volkswagen a dream one-two scenario in the process.
But Kalle Rovanperä managed to break Volkswagen’s dominance with a blistering time on the second run through La Fatarella-Vilalba that saw him take 9.7 seconds out of Camilli, moving him up to second in class as a result; he splits the VW’s at the end of day two.
Skoda teammate Jan Kopecký is fourth, 21.1 seconds behind Camilli, while JWRC graduate Nil Solans completes the top five going into day three.
Taisko Lario leads WRC3 as both Enrico Brazzoli and British driver Louise Cook suffered problems; Cook retiring on stage five with a mechanical failure on her Ford Fiesta R2T.
Day three of 2018 Rally de España sees the event move to asphalt and features another seven stages totalling 121.8km of stage miles.