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Catalunya WRC: Mikkelsen leads Ostberg in opening loop

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Catalunya WRC: Mikkelsen leads Ostberg in opening loop
By:
Oct 6, 2017, 11:04 AM

Andreas Mikkelsen made a dream start with his new WRC team Hyundai, leading Rally Catalunya after the first loop of stages on Friday morning.

Andreas Mikkelsen, Anders Jäger, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Andreas Mikkelsen, Hyundai Motorsport
Mads Ostberg, Torstein Eriksen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Mads Ostberg, Torstein Eriksen, M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport
Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport

The start of the calendar' s only mixed-surface event of the season was blessed with sunshine and blue skies – just the sort of conditions championship leader Sebastien Ogier feared the most, with him running at the front of the field and sweeping the loose gravel aside.

Typically, Ogier wasn’t far away and a stunning time from first on the road through the longest test of the loop – the 24-mile Terra Alta test – kept M-Sport’s championship leader right in the thick of the fight.

Sixth fastest on stages one and two, Mikkelsen stormed through SS3 and into the lead.

Mikkelsen was one of six drivers with four hard tyres beneath him for the longest stage and he made full use of them and a slightly cleaner line which came from running ninth on the road.

“It’s been a good morning,” said Mikkelsen. “I made some changes to the car before the long stage, worked a little bit on the differential settings and this helped. I am starting to feel more and more at home with the car now.”

Mikkelsen is just six tenths of a second ahead of his Norwegian countryman Mads Ostberg, who has been struggling with dust flying into his car through a hole in his Ford Fiesta. 

“I can’t see where I’m going,” he said. “I could have been much faster; my co-driver can’t speak and we can’t breathe!”

Ogier is four seconds down on Ostberg, with teammate Ott Tanak fourth after a puncture scare for the Estonian on SS3.

Britain’s Kris Meeke is the top Citroen in fifth place after a trouble-free morning, while local hero Dani Sordo in sixth had a suspected steering problem on his Hyundai halfway through Terra Alta.

Hyundai's championship contender Thierry Neuville was a further 3.5s down, the Belgian the only driver to select six soft tyres for the morning loop.

The top Toyota of Jari-Matti Latvala was only eighth, 4.4s ahead of teammate Juho Hanninen, as Esapekka Lappi lost 45 seconds after losing his brakes.

Elfyn Evans rounded out the top 10 after struggling for grip in his DMACK Fiesta.

In WRC2, Teemu Suninen has established a lead of almost a minute.

Standings after SS3:

ClaDriver/CodriverCarGap
1 norway Andreas Mikkelsen 
norway Anders Jäger 
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC  
2 norway Mads Ostberg 
norway Torstein Eriksen 
Ford Fiesta WRC '17 0.6
3 france Sébastien Ogier 
france Julien Ingrassia 
Ford Fiesta WRC '17 4.6
4 estonia Ott Tanak 
estonia Martin Jarveoja 
Ford Fiesta WRC '17 7.4
5 united_kingdom Kris Meeke 
ireland Paul Nagle 
Citroën C3 WRC 7.6
6 spain Dani Sordo 
spain Marc Marti 
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 12.3
7 belgium Thierry Neuville 
belgium Nicolas Gilsoul 
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 15.8
8 finland Jari-Matti Latvala 
finland Miikka Anttila 
Toyota Yaris WRC 16.0
9 finland Juho Hanninen 
finland Kaj Lindstrom 
Toyota Yaris WRC 20.4
10 united_kingdom Elfyn Evans 
united_kingdom Daniel Barritt 
Ford Fiesta WRC '17 33.5
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Catalunya WRC: Mikkelsen ends first day with Hyundai on top

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About this article

Series WRC
Event Rally Catalunya
Drivers Andreas Mikkelsen
Teams Hyundai Motorsport
Author David Evans