Sebastien Ogier kicked off the final WRC event of the season in style by topping all three of the opening day’s morning stages in Rally Wales.
Ogier, who gave away a surefire victory with a Power Stage crash three weeks ago in Spain, was only 0.8s quicker than Jari-Matti Latvala after Hafren, the longest stage of this rally.
However, his Finnish teammate then went off in a ditch on the next test and was unable to rejoin the action.
That allowed Kris Meeke to grab second, 12.9s off Ogier’s pace, with Rally Spain winner Andreas Mikkelsen and fellow Citroen driver Mads Ostberg less than 10 seconds behind.
”Difficult for sure, trying to adjust to the grip. I think I managed it okay. I'm happy enough, I got into the rhythm quickly enough," said Mikkelsen, who missed yesterday’s shakedown as he flew to Germany for a quick medical check-up.
Welshman Elfyn Evans ended up in the top five despite struggling for confidence, taking advantage of a spin from Dani Sordo, who dropped down to sixth.
Hayden Paddon in seventh was the only Hyundai not to hit problems as Thierry Neuville lost a wheel after hitting a tree in the third stage, while Kevin Abbring retired as well.
Ott Tanak rounded out the top eight as Robert Kubica was another victim of the third stage, the Polish ex-F1 driver losing around three minutes due to a slow puncture.
Results after SS3:
|Pos.||Driver / Co-Driver||Car||Time/Delay|