Tanak on top in Rally Estonia shakedown

Tenths of a second split the leading drivers through the 6.23km Abissaare test until the world champion pulled clear in his final two runs. He eventually ended 1.4s faster than anyone else.

Ott Tanak

The Estonian’s time confirmed his status as pre-event favourite for this fourth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, which is visiting the Baltic state for the first time. The rally also marks the 600th WRC event since the series began in 1973.

The Hyundai i20 driver set the pace in the opening run, as one of just two drivers to break the three-minute mark. After returning to the Raadi service park in Tartu, Tänak went back out and lowered his earlier time by 1.6s.

He completed his morning’s work by reducing the benchmark by a further 0.4s to head championship leader Sébastien Ogier, driving a Toyota Yaris, who moved up the rankings with a strong final run.

M-Sport Ford’s Esapekka Lappi was third, a further tenth behind. The Finn completed five runs in his Ford Fiesta, making light of his lack of pre-event testing compared to others and posting his best time in the final pass.

Teenager Kalle Rovanperä claimed fourth in a Toyota Yaris, another tenth adrift, with Thierry Neuville 0.2s behind the Finn in an i20. Elfyn Evans completed the top six.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta overshot a junction in his first pass, but in worse trouble was Teemu Suninen.

The M-Sport Ford driver emerged from his fourth run with front right damage to his Fiesta after going off the road and hitting a tree. Suninen drove the car back to service where his mechanics were examining the extent of the damage, which is reported not to be serious.

1Ott TänakToyota Yaris2:56.8s
2Sébastien OgierFord Fiesta+1.4s
3Esapekka LappiToyota Yaris+1.5s
4Kalle RovanperäToyota Yaris+1.6s
5Thierry NeuvilleHyundai i20+1.8s
6Elfyn EvansToyota Yaris+2.4s
7Craig BreenHyundai i20+2.6s
8Takamoto KatsutaToyota Yaris+3.2s
9Pierre-Louis LoubetHyundai i20+3.4s

Source: motorsportweek