Germany WRC: Tanak leads Sordo after first stage
WRC points leader Ott Tanak beat his title rivals on the first stage of Rally Germany to take an early lead ahead of Dani Sordo.
The first stage offered a rare opportunity for crews to tackle a representative road to open the rally – having also used the test on shakedown – with many events in the WRC opting for city centre or superspecial-style stages to start rallies.
Tanak – driving a Toyota with a revised rear wing – set a time of 2m39.4s and jumped to the top of the leaderboard as the last competitive World Rally Car through the stage.
The only interloper in the top four alongside the title contenders was Sordo, who took the second-fastest time behind Tanak for Hyundai in his first appearance in a WRC car since his Rally Sardinia win earlier in the year.
Citroen's Sebastien Ogier rounded out the top three, 0.9s adrift of Tanak, while Thierry Neuville rounded out the top four for Hyundai.
Neuville claimed he had been slowed when he saw some dust in the 5.2-kilometre stage, which he thought could have been a car off the road ahead.
Kris Meeke was 1.4s adrift of his Toyota teammate Ott Tanak in fifth, while the third Yaris WRC of Jari-Matti Latvala ended up one spot behind in sixth.
Teemu Suninen was equal-fastest at the first split, and he took seventh as the lead M-Sport Ford Fiesta driver this weekend in the absence of Elfyn Evans through injury.
Citroen’s Esapekka Lappi topped the mid-stage split along with Suninen, before he went slightly deep into a chicane and had to settle for eighth.
Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) and Gus Greensmith – subbing for Evans at M-Sport for his first appearance on asphalt in a WRC car – rounded out the top 10.
Toyota protege Takamoto Katsuta was the last of the WRC runners in 11th on his world championship debut in a top-line car.
Kalle Rovanpera began his bid to take a fifth consecutive WRC 2 Pro victory by setting the fastest time in class through the first stage.
Toyota adjusts rear wing after FIA rules clarification
Germany WRC: Tanak, Neuville in early breakaway