Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera led after the first day of Greece’s Acropolis Rally on Friday with championship-leading team mate Sebastien Ogier third.
Hyundai’s Estonian Ott Tanek was second, 3.7 seconds behind the Finn, with Frenchman Ogier two tenths further behind in a close battle between the three drivers over the day’s five rock-strewn gravel stages.
Ogier’s closest title rivals had a difficult day with Toyota team mate Elfyn Evans suffering a stuck gearbox and losing five minutes while Hyundai’s Belgian Thierry Neuville lost six minutes to broken power steering.
Ogier, chasing his eighth world championship, is 38 points clear of Welshman Evans with three rounds remaining after Greece.
“I was pretty pessimistic starting this day given our road position and the conditions, I was thinking it could be a tough one, but I think I did everything I could and managed to stay out of trouble,” said Ogier.
Kalle Rovanpera of Finland (Toyota Yaris)
“We were really on the limit in some sections and also a bit clever in some rough parts.”
Saturday, with six stages and 132.56km of competitive action, is the longest day of the Lamia-based rally that started with an opening street stage in Athens on Thursday.
The rally is making its return to the calendar for the first time since 2003.