LONDON (Reuters) – Championship leader Ott Tanak ended the first leg of Wales Rally GB with a 3.4-second advantage over Citroen rival Sebastien Ogier after seizing the lead as night fell on Friday.
The top two overhauled early leader Kris Meeke, Tanak’s Toyota team mate, in the evening stages with the Estonian winning the last two.
Northern Irishman Meeke had led since Thursday night’s opener and held off the field through the afternoon in wet and slippery conditions.
Tanak is 17 points clear of the French six times world champion with two rounds remaining after Wales. Ogier is chasing his sixth win in Britain in seven years.
Meeke finished the day third, 3.6 seconds behind Tanak, with Belgian Thierry Neuville fourth for Hyundai and a further 4.8 adrift.
Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala was as high as third at one point but retired after rolling his Toyota while compatriot Esapekka Lappi slid his Citroen into a ditch.
The morning’s Aberhirnant stage was stopped before all the top cars had gone through, with spectators judged to be in dangerous positions by the roadside.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)