Sebastien Loeb leads Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville going into Saturday’s action on Rally Turkey after taking a shock lead.
Loeb, who hasn’t competed in the FIA World Rally Championship since the opening round of the season in Monte Carlo, has a 1.2 seconds advantage over the Belgian, although the nine-time champion will be the first car on the road tomorrow as a result .
The Frenchman finished second on both of Friday’s stages – behind Neuville on SS1 and Sebastien Ogier on SS2 – to lead going into Saturday.
Ogier’s victory on Gökçe moved him up to third ahead of Toyota teammate Elfyn Evans with Kalle Rovanperä also leapfrogging Teemu Suninen into fifth on the same stage.
The M-Sport Ford drivers were the only crews to opt for hard tyres, with Suninen lying ahead of an angry Ott Tänak who had to settle for seventh after complaining of visibility issues due to the dust on the gravel event.
Both him and Neuville wanted the rally organisers to increase the starting gap between each driver ahead of the second test, but nothing came of it and Tänak in-particular was hit hard, although is still only just 4.8 seconds behind leader Loeb.
Eighth is Esapekka Lappi, 1.8 seconds further behind, with the last WRC runner being Gus Greensmith, who had earlier crashed on the shakedown although the car was fully repaired ahead of SS1.
WRC2 overnight is being led by Adrien Fourmaux. The Frenchman set a stunning time on SS1 which was 12.6 seconds faster than rival Pontus Tidemand, with the M-Sport driver then going on to extend his lead to 23.0 seconds in front of Eyvind Brynildsen by the end of Friday evening. Marco Bulacia Wilkinson has a 12.4 seconds lead over Kajetan Kajentanowicz in WRC3.
Rally Turkey continues this weekend with six more stages tomorrow totalling 107.38km.