Rally Germany: Kopecky leads as Meeke crashes out on first stage

Skoda R5 driver Jan Kopecky took a surprise early Rally Germany lead on Thursday evening's superspecial, on which Kris Meeke crashed out

Rally Germany: Kopecky leads as Meeke crashes out on first stage

Ott Tanak had been fastest of the World Rally Car runners and looked set to begin Friday with the outright rally lead before WRC2 driver Kopecky nipped ahead by 0.3 seconds.

Meeke turned in too sharply at one of the 1.3-mile course's many hairpins, clouting the concrete barrier with his Citroen's right-front wheel and instantly breaking the steering.

He limped on for a short distance before parking the car, with the stage then delayed by just over a quarter of an hour as a recovery truck was sent in to retrieve the broken C3.

Citroen should be able to repair the car at service, but Meeke will take a 10-minute Rally2 penalty before beginning Friday's stages.

While Meeke crashed, his Citroen team-mates Craig Breen and Andreas Mikkelsen were third and fourth fastest, having both spent time at the head of the standings.

World Rally Championship title rivals Sebastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville - currently equal on points - will begin Friday's stages fifth and ninth.

Ogier equalled Mikkelsen's time, but Neuville admitted he was cautious after seeing Meeke's crash as he had thrown away his Rally Sweden lead in February in a similar superspecial incident.

Jari-Matti Latvala completed the top six in the leading Toyota, with his Rally Finland winning team-mate Esapekka Lappi down in 14th.

Leading positions

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Jan Kopecky, P.Dresler Skoda Motorsport Skoda 2m05.9s
2 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 0.3s
3 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1.3s
4 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1.9s
4 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1.9s
6 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 2.2s
7 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 2.4s
8 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 2.5s
9 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 2.7s
10 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 2.8s


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