Wales Rally GB, SS2-3: Tänak storms clear
Estonian wins two on the bounce
Ott Tänak won Friday morning’s opening two speed tests to charge into the lead of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB.
The north Wales forest roads were muddy and slippery, but Tänak maintained the dominant form which has netted a hat-trick of rally victories to win the short Clocaenog special stage and demote overnight leader Esapekka Lappi.
Tänak edged 2017 rally winner Elfyn Evans by 0.3sec and then defeated the Welshman by 3.0sec in the next Brenig test, the longest of the rally, to lead by 5.4sec in his Toyota Yaris.
“I can say the feeling wasn’t great but I guess it’s because the conditions are so tricky. They’re changing all the time,” said the Estonian, whose Yaris was fitted with Michelin’s soft compound tyres.
Evans was relaxed and relieved in equal measure at the end of Brenig. “We had a puncture alarm go off early on and there was a lot of communication. Thankfully it was just a false alarm,” he explained.
Ford Fiesta team-mate Sébastien Ogier was third, a further 1.9sec back. The Frenchman was uncomfortable in the mud but was almost seven seconds ahead of the similar car of Teemu Suninen, who missed a junction in Clocaenog.
Craig Breen and championship leader Thierry Neuville were clustered together in fifth and sixth, just behind the Finn, but Neuville was far from happy with his start.
“I struggled with understeer. The car isn’t doing what I want, I hit the chicane and I almost had to go backwards a bit,” said the Hyundai i20 pilot.
Jari-Matti Latvala also reported understeer in his Yaris while team-mate Lappi fell back with a half spin in Clocaenog and lacked confidence in Brenig.
Hayden Paddon lost a few seconds after a small off in his i20 and team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen was at a loss to understand the handling of his car.
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