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WRC Rally Greece

WRC Greece: Tanak podium hopes dented by water pump issue

A water pump issue has dented Ott Tanak’s hopes of scoring an Acropolis Rally podium after picking up a time penalty on Friday afternoon at the rough gravel World Rally Championship event.

Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

The M-Sport driver ended Friday morning's two-stage loop in fourth, 8.3s adrift of leader Hyundai's Thierry Neuville before drama struck in the tyre fitting zone.

Tanak's Ford Puma developed a water pump issue that triggered frantic work on the car, with Tanak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja assisting mechanics in finding a fix for the problem.

The issue was resolved but at a cost as Tanak left the tyre fitting zone 22 minutes late, incurring a 3min40s penalty in the process.

The problem compounded a difficult morning for the British squad after Pierre-Louis Loubet failed to start the day's first stage due to a technical issue with the Frenchman's Puma. Unable to bring the car back to life, Loubet was forced to retire from the day's action.

Tanak headed to stage four, the first of the afternoon, but was unable to navigate through the second pass of the Loutraki test after officials moved to cancel the stage due to spectator safety reasons.

Eight Rally1 cars had already passed through the stage before spectators had moved into a dangerous area, prompting the call to cancel the test.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: M-Sport

Toyota's Sebastien Ogier clocked the fastest time through the stage before the cancellation. The eight-time world champion, competing in a partial season, was 2.2s faster than rally leader Neuville.

The stage was held in hot and dry conditions, which proved to be a disadvantage for the early runners.

Kalle Rovanpera, starting first on the road, dropped to third overall behind Ogier after posting a time 6.0s slower than his Toyota team-mate.

Neuville's rally lead increased to 2.4s over Ogier with Rovanpera, a second adrift in third position.

Toyota's Elfyn Evans and Hyundai's Esapekka Lappi share fourth spot overall, 15.6s shy of the outright pace.

Lappi showed improved pace to see the third quickest time on stage four but the Finn was then forced to pull over on a road section to fix a leaking radiator, before heading to stage five (Livadia, 21.03km).

Dani Sordo, piloting the third Hyundai, was able to match Rovanpera's stage time and has moved into sixth overall following Tanak's penalty, ahead of Toyota's Takamoto Katsuta.

The crews will tackle two more stages this afternoon.

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