Tanak takes early lead in Spain

Tanak mastered the wet Barcelona streets

Tanak mastered the wet Barcelona streets

A combination of determined driving and the best of bad conditions has seen Ott Tanak take the lead after a rain-soaked opening street stage in Barcelona at Rally Spain.

Tanak was quickest by 2.7sec in his DMack shod Ford Fiesta RS as rain throughout the running of the stage made condition extremely tricky. Second fastest was Italian Lorenzo Bertelli, who was first car out on the course.

Despite facing no doubt the worst of the conditions, Sebastien Ogier was able to score the third fastest time.

Although he was fastest, Tanak was more concerned with a mechanical issue.

“We need to check something because the rear differential feels strange,” said Tanak.

“We can’t do anything tonight but we need to have a look in the morning.”

With the car’s set-up for gravel conditions and drivers having to select tyres based on the opening stages tomorrow, Ogier had picked softer rubber, while many others had harder Michelin tyres.

“A good time but it’s tough to start the rally in these conditions,” said Ogier.

“The grip was a bit lower than I expected but still I enjoyed it. I knew it would be hard to match the times of the guys who ran earlier.”

WRC 2 driver Jan Kopecky was a shock fourth in a Skoda Fabia R5 with Kris Meeke and Craig Breen tied for fifth in Citroën’s DS 3. Thierry Neuville was the leading Hyundai i20 in seventh.

Mads Ostberg reported the engine of his Fiesta RS bogged down several times in tight corners while a disillusioned Jari-Matti Latvala had no answers for a lacklustre 13th fastest.

The first full day of running sees drivers face two identical loops of three special stages covering 115.90km, including the 38.95km Terra Alta, the longest of the weekend.

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