SS2: Tänak strikes early

Ott Tänak sent a warning to his Neste Rally Finland rivals with a stunning drive to win Friday morning’s opening speed test and extend his overnight lead.

Stage info: SS2

Moksi 1, 20.04km
Moksi is a tough opener to Friday’s action, with many changes in rhythm. Two worlds meet as narrow roads contrast with wide sections where drivers push at crazy speeds. Precision is called for on the small roads, with plenty of stones lurking on the inside of tight corners. A big jump near the finish promises plenty of two-wheel landings for fans.

The Estonian was fastest through the 20.04km Moksi special stage in his Toyota Yaris by 1.3sec from Mads Østberg – the man who topped the times in yesterday morning’s shakedown. Tänak leads the Norwegian by 3.1sec.

Teemu Suninen was the only other driver to get remotely close to the impressive Tänak. The young Finn was 5.3sec adrift and is already almost 10sec behind in the standings after struggling to keep the rear of his Ford Fiesta in the driving line.

Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth in another Yaris, almost 10sec slower than his team-mate, with Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 and Elfyn Evans’ Fiesta completing the top six.

There was plenty of loose gravel on the road and the early starters struggled for grip – with the exception of Tänak. Road opener Thierry Neuville dropped 20.0sec in his i20 and title rival Sébastien Ogier was 15.5sec adrift in his Fiesta. They were ninth and seventh respectively.

Last year’s winner Esapekka Lappi had a disappointing start. The Finn’s Yaris stalled under braking early in the test and he conceded 31.5sec in 11th place. Lappi said it was a problem he had encountered in pre-event testing.

Craig Breen, impressive in yesterday’s shakedown, punctured a rear right tyre in his Citroën C3 and dropped 47.8sec. The Irishman was 13th overall.

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