Tänak, Neuville share best time on Estonia Sunday opener

Hyundai duo fastest on short Neeruti test as Rovanperä gets another step closer to maiden WRC win


Hyundai team-mates Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville shared the first stage win on the Rally Estonia Sunday morning as Kalle Rovanperä remained on course to win in the World Rally Championship for the first time.

Tänak has been the pacesetter on most of the stages since restarting the rally following a retirement on Friday.

He ended up as the first car on the road on Sunday morning as Gus Greensmith suffered a late scare on the way to SS19, stopping on the road section to change the spark plugs in his Ford Fiesta.

The M-Sport driver therefore dropped back to fifth in the running order, ahead of Sébastien Ogier and Neuville.

“It’s all good now, car feels fine, should be no issues for the rest of the day,” said Greensmith. “I think it was maybe possibly self-inflicted but we got it fixed, so all OK.”

Greensmith was eighth fastest, 8.4 seconds shy of the benchmark Tänak shared with Neuville – who successfully completed part one of his mission to keep Ogier behind him.

Ogier was only 0.2s adrift of the stage-winning pace though, 0.8s quicker than Elfyn Evans who is tucked in fifth place behind him.

Rovanperä was fifth fastest, 1.8s off the pace, as he looked to keep his nose clean.

“I just tried to enjoy the driving and drive quite normally, but for sure I’m careful,” he said.

Craig Breen employed a similar tactic, losing 0.5s to Rovanperä to hold second place, 51.2s behind overall.

Teemu Suninen, who said “sometimes you feel like you’re driving on Tarmac the grip is so high” on SS19, and Pierre-Louis Loubet propped up the World Rally Car times on Sunday morning’s opener.

Andreas Mikkelsen might have fancied an easy Sunday cruise, but Mads Østberg did not seem keen to allow that.

The reigning WRC2 Champion was a strong seventh fastest overall on SS19, quicker than World Rally Car drivers Greensmith, Suninen, and Loubet, to swipe 7.3s out of Mikkelsen’s class advantage.

The gap between the two Norwegians, in ninth and 10th overall, is 18.6s.

Marco Bulacia had been glued behind Østberg at the end of Saturday but dropped time on Sunday morning, falling to 10.9s behind and allowing himself to be overhauled by Adrien Fourmaux for the final place on the WRC2 podium too.

The M-Sport driver is just 0.5s ahead of the Toksport Škoda though.

SS19 times

1= Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) 4m48.3s
1= Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 4m48.3s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +0.2s
4 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1s
5 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1.8s
6 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +2.3s

Leading positions after SS19

1 Rovanperä/Halttunen 2h22m36.9s
2 Breen/Nagle +51.2s
3 Neuville/Wydaeghe +1m19.1s
4 Ogier/Ingrassia +1m37.2s
5 Evans/Martin +2m01.4s
6 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (M-Sport Ford) +6m23s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Florian Haut-Labourdette (Hyundai) +7m45.4s
8 Alexey Lukyanuk/Yaroslav Fedorov (Škoda) +8m25.8s
9 Andreas Mikkelsen/Ola Fløene (Škoda) +9m28.2s
10 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +9m46.8s