Day one: 91.68 miles; 8 stages
Weather: overcast -2 – -12 celsius After an early ding-dong with Jari-matti Latvala, Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville comes out as the day one winner for the second event in succession. Neuville hasn’t put a foot wrong on his way to five fastest times and a near half-minute lead over the Toyota driver. Latvala feels the Yaris WRC is crashing through early on, but raising the rear ride height and stiffening the front suspension cures that and inspires further confidence. Unfortunately for the Finnish outfit, the Toyota threat is halved when Juho Hanninen crashes into a tree in a shunt remarkably similar in nature to the one that ruled him out of round one last month. Hanninen’s Toyota will return for day two. Ott Tanak spearheads M-sport’s attack on Friday night, with team-mate and Monte winner Sebastien Ogier supping from a poisoned chalice that leaves him first on the road as championship leader. Tanak is third overall, and admits running third on the road has opened his eyes to Ogier’s view on being up front in these conditions. Ogier’s afternoon is worse than his morning, with the Frenchman forced to widen the narrow tracks left by the historic cars that split the modern field’s passage through the stages. Elfyn Evans had made it three Fiestas in the top six before a puncture in Svullrya cost him time. Citroen’s determination to bounce back from a troubled Monte Carlo Rally is spoiled slightly by a broken front-right damper for Craig Breen and a loss of studs for team-mate Kris Meeke. The Northern Irishman was generally the quicker of the two C3 WRCS and last year’s Finland winner went to bed fourth.