The Frenchman opted to start last of the 11 top priority drivers to take advantage of what he hopes will be the best road conditions in the rock-strewn hills east of the rally base of Loutraki.
Ogier’s choice was predictable. The early starters will have the unenviable task of sweeping loose stones from the road surface to leave a cleaner and faster line for those behind.
Tonight’s second stage will be in darkness and Ogier’s only doubt would have been the possibility of dust hanging in the calm evening air, ensuring only the first starter would enjoy a clear run. However, gusts of up to 50kph in the service park suggest dust will not be a problem.
Ogier was fastest by 1.1sec in qualifying at the wheel of his Volkswagen Polo R from Dani Sordo’s Citroen DS3 and Evgeny Novikov’s Ford Fiesta RS. They followed Ogier’s strategy and opted to start tenth and ninth respectively.
All the remaining drivers opted for the lowest slot available, with the exception of Andreas Mikkelsen.
The Norwegian was sixth fastest in his Polo R, but opted to run third on the road. This allowed Volkswagen colleague Jari-Matti Latvala, who was only ninth fastest after making several mistakes, to start behind him.
The start order is:
1. Khalid Al Qassimi
2. Martin Prokop
3. Andreas Mikkelsen
4. Jari-Matti Latvala
5. Mikko Hirvonen
6. Nasser Al-Attiyah
7. Mads Ostberg
8. Thierry Neuville
9. Evgeny Novikov
10. Dani Sordo
11 Sebastien Ogier