WRC - Tänak takes a late lead on Rally GB | Federation Internationale de l'Automobile
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WRC - Tänak takes a late lead on Rally GB

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2019 Wales Rally GB - Friday afternoon

2019 Wales Rally GB - O. Tänak / M. Järveoja

World Championship leader Ott Tänak snatched the lead of Wales Rally GB on Friday afternoon from the clutches of team-mate Kris Meeke, as the treacherous north Wales forests threw everything it could at the best drivers in the FIA World Rally Championship during the event’s first full day.

Nine gruelling stages made up Friday’s leg, which included Rally GB classics such as Penmachno and Dyfnant. A wet start to the day would make conditions tough going for the crews as the mud strewn stages offered little grip for the high-powered machinery.

The Estonian Toyota Yaris driver overhauled the Ulsterman on the final test of the day, to head into Saturday with a lead of just 3.4 seconds over the World Rally Championship title-chasing Sébastien Ogier in his Citroën C3 WRC. Meeke’s time on the final test dropped him to third overall less than a second behind the six-time World Champion.

Meeke achieved a 2.1 second lead over the chasing pack after last night’s opening stage at Oulton Park. That lead extended as far as 9.2 seconds during today, before his fall down the leader board as the darkness drew in.

Thierry Neuville, the third driver in the title battle, ended fourth in his Hyundai i20, 4.8sec behind Meeke. The Belgian had no major problems but a tyre selection mix-up at mid-leg service cost valuable seconds this afternoon.

Team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Craig Breen completed the top six, half a minute off the lead.

Ford Fiesta team-mates Teemu Suninen, Elfyn Evans and Pontus Tidemand were seventh, eighth and ninth. Suninen lost time in a ditch while Evans, who was fastest out of the blocks on the opening Elsi test, dropped almost 45sec this morning after swiping a bank and damaging his car’s rear suspension.

FIA WRC 2 Pro leader Jan Kopecký completed a top 10 that was missing Jari-Matti Latvala and Esapekka Lappi following crashes. Latvala ran as high as third before rolling his Yaris heavily and he will not restart tomorrow. Lappi slid his C3 into a ditch and could not regain the track.

In FIA WRC 2, Pierre-Louis Loubet heads the field, almost 36 seconds in front of 2003 WRC Champion Petter Solberg, while Jan Solans is the fierce leader of the FIA Junior WRC class, 16.3 seconds ahead of his closest rival Tom Kristensson in the championship-deciding event.


2019 Wales Rally GB - Unofficial Results after Section 4:

1. Ott Tänak (EST) / Martin Järveoja (EST)                         Toyota Yaris WRC1hr 14min 30.8sec
2. Sébastien Ogier (FRA) / Julien Ingrassia (FRA)Citroën C3 WRC1hr 14min 34.2sec
3. Kris Meeke (GBR) / Sebastian Marshall (GBR)Toyota Yaris WRC1hr 14min 34.4sec
4. Thierry Neuville (BEL) / Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC1hr 14min 39.2sec
5. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Anders Jaeger-Amland (NOR)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC1hr 14min 56.5sec
6. Craig Breen (IRL) / Paul Nagle (IRL)Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC1hr 15min 04.3sec
7. Teemu Suninen (FIN) / Marko Salminen (FIN)Ford Fiesta WRC1hr 15min 08.2sec
8. Elfyn Evans (GBR) / Scott Martin (GBR)Ford Fiesta WRC1hr 15min 22.6sec
9. Pontus Tidemand (SWE) / Ola Floene (NOR)Ford Fiesta WRC1hr 17min 27.4sec
10. Jan Kopecky (CZE) / Pavel Bresler (CZE)Škoda Fabia R5 Evo1hr 18min 31.9sec