WRC Corsica: Kris Meeke leads from Sebastien Ogier
|By Matt Beer||Friday, April 7th 2017, 10:11 GMT|
Kris Meeke grabbed the early advantage on the 2017 World Rally Championship's first dry asphalt round by establishing Citroen in the lead on the Tour of Corsica's opening stages.
Meeke was quickest on both the Pietrosella-Albitreccia and Plage du Liamone-Sarrola-Carocpino stages and is 8.9 seconds clear of WRC leader Sebastien Ogier's M-Sport Ford heading for the lunchtime regroup.
Hyundai's Thierry Neuville drifted away from Meeke and Ogier in third through the morning loop, with the second Fiesta of Ott Tanak on his tail.
Tanak and Dani Sordo were tied for fourth following SS1, but a strong time from Tanak on SS2 drew him clear and left Sordo to fend off the second Citroen of Craig Breen.
Citroen is running three 2017 cars for the first time this week, with Stephane Lefebvre running ninth behind Hayden Paddon.
Toyota has had a tough start to its first factory Corsica appearance of the 21st century.
Jari-Matti Latvala felt his driving was too "hesitant" all morning and he is already 34s off the lead in seventh.
His team-mate Juho Hanninen looked like he would be in the podium fight based on his split times before hitting a bridge near the end of SS1.
That caused a fluid spillage that then led to a fire. Though Hanninen extinguished the blaze and got to the stage end after a 14-minute delay, he then decided to retire on the way to SS2.
Elfyn Evans was ninth after SS1 as the DMACKs proved less competitive than the Michelins on asphalt, and he then tumbled down the order when hydraulics problems set in on the next stage and cost him over two minutes.
Andreas Mikkelsen resumed his WRC2-leading form from his last Skoda appearance in Monte Carlo, though M-Sport's Eric Camilli is just 5.8s behind in the class as they hold 10th and 11th overall.
Formula E racer and Toyota LMP1 driver Stephane Sarrazin is giving his new Sarrazin Motorsport rally team its debut this weekend, and runs 12th overall in his Skoda.
While not registered for WRC2, Sarrazin is within 10s of R5 category pacesetter Mikkelsen.
LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS2
|1||Kris Meeke, P.Nagle||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||38m18.8s|
|2||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||8.9s|
|3||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||17.2s|
|4||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||M-Sport World Rally Team||Ford||21.5s|
|5||Dani Sordo, M.Marti||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||26.7s|
|6||Craig Breen, S.Martin||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||29.7s|
|7||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||Toyota||34.8s|
|8||Hayden Paddon, J.Kennard||Hyundai Motorsport||Hyundai||45.0s|
|9||Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau||Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT||Citroen||1m06.1s|
|10||Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager||Skoda Motorsport||Skoda||1m28.2s|