Rally Finland WRC: Neuville in early lead from Toyota's Tanak/Meeke
|By Stephen Brunsdon||Thursday, August 1st 2019, 18:24 GMT|
Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville took an early lead on Rally Finland after winning the opening Harju superspecial by 0.7 seconds from points leader Ott Tanak.
Tanak, who won last year's event, topped the morning shakedown from Neuville and had been marginally up through the opening split, but lost time towards the end of the short 1.4-mile stage based in the centre of Jyvaskyla.
His Toyota team-mate and 2016 winner Kris Meeke was third quickest in his Yaris WRC, albeit 1.2s adrift of Neuville - who completed the stage in 1m47.3s.
Sebastien Ogier, who earlier on Thursday affirmed he will step away from the WRC at the end of his current Citroen contract in 2020, was a further tenth of a second in arrears, setting the fourth-fastest time.
Neuville's Hyundai stablemate Andreas Mikkelsen was 2.2s off the pace in fifth, having bemoaned a "couple of mistakes" during his run.
Craig Breen, Teemu Suninen and Jari-Matti Latvala share sixth place after setting identical times. The trio lie just 2.4s off the leading time of Neuville.
Breen, making his first start of the season in what is for now a one-off appearance, was the first of the WRC cars to enter the stage and set an impressive benchmark on his first competitive outing in the i20.
Suninen and Latvala each finished ahead of fellow Finn Esapekka Lappi in the Citroen C3.
Lappi is currently ninth, 3.1s off the pace, while Gus Greensmith was the slowest WRC runner in 11th, on only his second outing in the main class.
WRC2 Pro points leader Kalle Rovanpera completed the top 10 in his Skoda Fabia R5, with Greensmith and WRC2 runner Pierre-Louis Loubet's Fabia splitting the Rovanpera and nearest Pro rival Eerik Pietarainen.
Leading positions after SS1
|1||Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||1m47.3s||-|
|2||Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||1m48.0s||0.7s|
|3||Kris Meeke, S.Marshall||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||1m48.5s||1.2s|
|4||Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia||Citroen Total WRT||Citroen||1m48.6s||1.3s|
|5||Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||1m49.5s||2.2s|
|6||Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT||Toyota||1m49.7s||2.4s|
|6||Craig Breen, P.Nagle||Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT||Hyundai||1m49.7s||2.4s|
|6||Teemu Suninen, J.Lehtinen||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||1m49.7s||2.4s|
|9||Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm||Citroen Total WRT||Citroen||1m50.4s||3.1s|
|10||Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen||Skoda Motorsport||Skoda||1m52.1s||4.8s|
|11||Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson||M-Sport Ford WRT||Ford||1m52.7s||5.4s|