Day one: 97.98 miles; 4 stages Weather: sunny 16-28 celsius ■ Sebastien Ogier has overcome some slightly cautious pacenotes to make the perfect start to the perfect day. The Frenchman wins four from four stages, ending the day 44s up on Thierry Neuville and almost a minute clear of his teammates. He’s as mystified as anybody at the lack of pace coming from the other two Polos. ■ There’s no shortage of pace from Kris Meeke’s DS 3 WRC. Only a spin early in the stage stops the Northern Irishman from leading after the opening 30-miler. Second by four seconds, Meeke can’t contain Ogier’s sensational SS2 speed and his hopes of a third consecutive win are blown when he’s forced to stop and change a front-left puncture in SS3. ■ Neuville is happy with second, having had the edge over team-mate Dani Sordo for much of the day, his grip on second is strengthened when the Spaniard suffers a puncture and drops to ninth on Friday’s final run. ■ Jari-matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen are squabbling over third place, the Finn leading the Norwegian by 1.3s at the end of the day. Latvala’s self-confidence is shot, while Mikkelsen’s leftfoot has been sent to sleep by a warped disc which is vibrating badly through the pedal. ■ Craig Breen’s World Rally Car debut on a Tarmac WRC round is going perfectly – his only drama being a struggle to find his rhythm in the long opening test.
End of day one: 1 Ogier/ Ingrassia 1h37m52.8s; 2 Neuville/ Gilsoul +44.0s; 3 Latvala/anttila +58.0s; 4 Mikkelsen/jaegar +59.3s; 5 Breen/ Martin +1m18.7s; 6 Paddon/ Kennard +1m26.2s.
Day two: 105.04 miles; 4 stages Weather: overcast then rain 15-24 celsius ■ A still sleeping Ogier fluffs a hairpin early in the first stage, but after that he’s absolutely on it and drives perfectly to defend his advantage at the front of the field. ■ Neuville’s day is similarly straightforward and he ends it on a high with a stage win. The Belgian’s choice of four hard tyres with only one spare works a treat in the afternoon but the Gods are definitely smiling on him as the rain arrives minutes after he crosses the line. ■ Mikkelsen eases clear of Latvala in the race for third place. A change of brake pad mid-way through the day doesn’t have the desired effect on his Polo and Jari-matti ships even more selfconfidence. ■ Breen is the first big loser in the SS7 rain as the downpour starts with him still four miles from the finish. The hard tyres lose their heat and grip almost immediately, forcing the Irishman onto the defensive. Crossing the hards with a couple of soft Michelins for the final stage of the day helps Breen score a fastest split time, 1.9s faster than Ogier in the penultimate 4.4-mile sector of SS8. He’s third quickest across the whole 19.13-mile stage. ■ The star of the opening stage is undoubtedly Meeke. The Dungannon man is 17s faster than anybody in SS5, moving him from 11th to eighth overall. Unfortunately for KM, that sensational time’s as good as his Saturday’s going to get: a mistake on the recce means he’s too quick in the first corner of SS6. He slides into a tree, damages the steering and is forced out for the rest of the day.
End of day two: 1 Ogier/ Ingrassia 3h27m10.0s; 2 Neuville/ Gilsoul +46.5s; 3 Mikkelsen/jaegar +1m.08s; 4 Latvala/anttila +1m41.3s; 5 Breen/ Martin +2m04.9s; 6 Paddon/ Kennard +2m42.7s.
Day three: 39.89 miles; 2 stages Weather: sunny 17-25 celsius ■ Meeke wins both stages, setting a blistering pace to take SS9 by a staggering 35.3s from Neuville. ■ With the Northern Irishman taking three points for the powerstage win, Mikkelsen and Ogier take two and one bonus points respectively. The only positional change in the top 10 on the final day comes with Ott Tanak edging WRC2 winner Elfyn Evans out of 10th.
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