When everything suggested a decisive change of gear by Sébastien Ogier, Ott Tanak’s paw arrived and led him to close the first stage of the New Zealand Rally in the lead, with full merit, after a day in which he always gave the impression of being the fastest driver.
The Estonian driver of Hyundai Motorsport had lost the lead in the PS5, the Whaanga Coast 2 of 29.27 kilometers in favor of Sébastien Ogier, but then in the last stage of the day, the Te Akau North 2 of 18.53 kilometers, he redone, coming back to the head.
Right in the first test of the afternoon lap, the rally lost one of the great protagonists of the morning, Craig Breen. The M-Sport driver made a mistake by finishing off the road in a right-hand corner, at kilometer 26.7 of the test.
This is the same point, the same corner, where in 2002 Colin McRae had one of the most famous street rides of his career. Of course, for Breen it cannot be a source of pride, especially considering that in the morning he had even commanded the general classification of the event.
Returning to the overall standings, Ott Tanak now precedes the three official Toyota GR Yaris Rally1s. The first of these is by Elfyn Evans, who, however, follows him very closely. The two are just 2 tenths behind, with Ogier – third – at 6 “7 from the top after a last test of a more difficult day than expected.
Ogier, in fact, had to deal with the loss of the rear wing on his Yaris and this cost a lot in terms of time in a very fast rally like the one in New Zealand.
Excellent day also for Kalle Rovanpera: the world leader is fourth, 7 “2 behind the top and half a second from the podium despite having opened all the tests of the day. The rain was certainly his most precious ally, but he is was good at exploiting it.
Gus Greensmith is fifth with the first of M-Sport’s Ford Puma Rally1 in the standings. The Briton has for now the author of an excellent day, even if Thierry Neuville has returned in a dangerous way behind him. After a really black morning, studded with errors due to a set-up far from his preferences (in Hyundai they should ask themselves questions in this regard: why does it happen so often?), In the afternoon the usual driver returned so fast that he practically did not lose anything. from the first. Too bad that he is now far, too far away to even aspire to a podium position.
Seventh place for Oliver Solberg, back in front of Takamoto Katsuta after a much better afternoon lap than the one in the morning. The latest of the Rally1 cars is Lorenzo Bertelli’s Ford Puma, who climbed to tenth position after an understandable period of adaptation to a car never tested before.
In WRC2 the absolute domination of Hayden Paddon continues. The Hyundai New Zealand driver has increased his advantage over the first of his rivals, Kajetan Kajetanowicz, bringing him to 1’01 “5. An abysmal advantage that keeps him firmly in the lead of the category.
The first day of competition ends here. The second stage will start with Special Stage 8, the 15.83 kilometer Kaipara Hills 1. The first car will enter the special at 21:08 Italian time, so tonight.
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