Estonia WRC: Tanak leads home event after shakedown
Rally Estonia, the fourth round of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship, has got underway following the Covid hiatus with a 6.23 km pre-event shakedown stage at Abissaare.
Reigning world champion Ott Tanak got off to a flying start to the event as the fastest man through the stage, stopping the clocks late in the session with a time of 2m56.8s in his Hyundai i20 WRC.
The home-grown hero for this weekend’s action, at an event put together in just two months as part of the much-altered WRC calendar for this year, made only three of a maximum five passes through the stage.
Clearly the work that was being done by his team in the interim had the car dialled in nicely for the rally proper, which opens with a ceremonial start at 18:00 this evening, and the opening stage an hour later.
In Tanak’s wake came the rest of the WRC field headed by the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC of Finland’s Esapekka Lappi, who clocked a 2.58.3 on his fifth and final run.
Just 0.1 seconds behind the Finn came Toyota’s teenage sensation Kalle Rovanpera, who is keen to pick up his debut season with the same pace and confidence that he showed when the season paused almost six months ago.
Rovanpera was just 0.1s in front of seven-time world champion Sebastien Ogier in the sister Toyota with Thierry Neuville fifth, another 0.1s behind for Hyundai.
Britain’s Elfyn Evans, who led the championship prior to the previous round in Mexico, set the sixth fastest time in his Toyota Yaris, just 0.2s faster than Irishman Craig Breen, who is at the wheel of the third works Hyundai this weekend.
In the WRC2 class, Norwegian veteran Mads Ostberg set the pace, clocking the 12th-fastest time at the wheel of his Citroen C3, almost a second clear of the Hyundai pedalled by Ole Christian Veiby.
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Estonia WRC: M-Sport’s Esapekka Lappi takes early lead