Tänak is enjoying an almighty run of form and arrives in Greece fresh from back-to-back wins in Finland and Belgium.
The Estonian driver wasted no time in continuing that trend as he blasted to the benchmark time on his third and final pass, stopping the clocks just three-tenths of a second quicker than Thierry Neuville’s similar car.
Conditions were warm, dry and dusty, with Pirelli’s hard compound Scorpion tyres being the rubber of choice for the 3.62km test near Lamia.
Although grip became easier to find as more cars passed through, a hard bedrock surface was also exposed and Tänak was keen to tread carefully in those areas.
"The roads were not so bad,” he explained, “but there was quite a lot of bedrock and the grip was changing a lot.
“In some places there was good grip but in other areas the grip is low. It will not be an easy rally and I think tomorrow, especially, will be demanding."
Craig Breen - winner of the 2014 Acropolis - filled the final podium spot in his M-Sport Ford Puma. The Irishman was sandwiched by Hyundai cars, trailing Neuville by six-tenths with Spaniard Dani Sordo only two-tenths behind.
Esapekka Lappi was Toyota Gazoo Racing’s leading driver and put his GR Yaris car into the top five on his final run. He headed team-mate Kalle Rovanperä, who could seal the drivers’ championship title this week but must outscore Tänak by at least 19 points to do so.
Rovanperä completed the top six but languished 1.7sec down on Tänak after struggling to find optimum traction on the loose gravel.
Sébastien Loeb completed two runs before his Puma developed a misfire. The Frenchman switched off the engine to prevent further damage and his M-Sport Ford squad will recover the car back to service to try and rectify the issue before the start this evening.
The leading times were:
|1.||Ott TÄNAK||Hyundai i20 N||2min 37.9sec|
|2.||Thierry NEUVILLE||Hyundai i20 N||+0.3sec|
|3.||Craig BREEN||Ford Puma||+0.9sec|
|4.||Dani SORDO||Hyundai i20 N||+1.1sec|
|5.||Esapekka LAPPI||Toyota GR Yaris||+1.4sec|
|6.||Kalle ROVANPERÄ||Toyota GR Yaris||+1.7sec|
|7.||Pierre-Louis LOUBET||Ford Puma||+2.1sec|
|8.||Elfyn EVANS||Toyota GR Yaris||+2.2sec|
|9.||Gus GREENSMITH||Ford Puma||+2.4sec|
|10.||Sébastien LOEB||Ford Puma||+4.0sec|
• Full coverage from EKO Acropolis Rally Greece will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.