WRC Arctic Rally: Tanak holds overnight lead for Hyundai

Hyundai's Ott Tanak holds the overnight lead after the first day's action on the Arctic Rally, the second round of the 2021 World Rally Championship

WRC Arctic Rally: Tanak holds overnight lead for Hyundai

Although it is one of Europe's oldest rallies, with a roll of honour dating back to 1966 and featuring names such as Hannu Mikkola, Ari Vatanen, Henri Toivonen and Tommi Makinen, the Arctic Rally is a debutant on the WRC schedule.

Lapland made a late substitution in place of the traditional Rally Sweden, which was originally scheduled for this weekend.

The Swedish event was abandoned due to concern over the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

One significant benefit from moving inside the Arctic Circle has been the guarantee of snow, after recent snow-free editions of the Swedish event.

Even so, the temperatures for much of the day hovered just above freezing point and tyre management in such conditions became of paramount importance.

The opening day consisted of two passes through one the longest stages of the event, the 31.05 km Sarriojarvi test.

The first pass was made in crystalline afternoon sunshine and the second in full darkness with spotlamp clusters ablaze.

Toyota's defending drivers' world champion Sebastien Ogier, winner of last month's Monte Carlo Rally, led the field away and bore the brunt of the road sweeping duties as a result.

The Frenchman's pace was considerably compromised by the virgin snow, even after his Toyota team had managed to convince the organisers to send a plough through the stage on Thursday evening.

Britain's Elfyn Evans, winner of last year's Rally Sweden, ran second on the road in his Toyota and was able to hang on in the top five overall after a typically gutsy performance, just over two seconds behind the Hyundai of Thierry Neuville.

While the men at the top of the points standings struggled, the advantage lay with those drivers further down the running order, and for many people the pre-start favourite was Toyota's 20-year-old charger Kalle Rovanpera, who won this event in 2020.

The youngster set a blistering pace in the early part of his first run but then dropped 12 seconds extricating himself from a snow bank, handing the advantage to the Hyundais of Tanak and Craig Breen.

Estonian Tanak, the 2019 drivers' champion, set a time 3.6 seconds faster than Breen, with the Irishman frustrated at not being able to make better use of his optimum road position as the last WRC car in to the stage.

After nightfall, the second pass of the day revealed that the road surface had changed considerably after the passage of 55 cars on hot, studded tyres.

Many drivers found that their front tyres were being excessively worn and, for overnight leader Tanak, there was considerable relief to be going back into service.

He alone elected to carry only one spare wheel with him in order to save weight, and this meant that he had to drive creatively to ensure that he preserved his rubber.

"I knew that it's going to be a disaster for the tyres," Tanak said after securing his 16-second lead overnight.

"I tried to be very, very nice since the beginning and after 10 kms I felt that 'shit it's finished' and I still had 20 to go... so in the end it was just handbrake (to slow the car)."

The action continues on Saturday with a loop of three stages to be run both in the morning and after the lunchtime service halt.

Arctic Rally day one result

Pos Class Driver Team Gap
1 RC1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 31m50.7s
2 RC1 Craig Breen, P.Nagle Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 16.2s
3 RC1 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 20.4s
4 RC1 Thierry Neuville, M.Wydaeghe Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 29.8s
5 RC1 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 32.0s
6 RC1 Teemu Suninen, M.Markkula M-Sport Ford WRT 34.5s
7 RC1 Takamoto Katsuta, D.Barritt Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 38.8s
8 RC1 Oliver Solberg, S.Marshall Hyundai 2C Competition 45.9s
9 RC1 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 49.8s
10 RC1 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT 1m05.8s
11 WRC2 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Movisport SRL 1m28.2s
12 WRC2 Nikolay Gryazin, K.Aleksandrov Movisport SRL 1m41.8s
13 WRC2 Andreas Mikkelsen, O.Floene Toksport WRT 1m44.5s
14 WRC3 Emil Lindholm, M.Korhonen 1m48.2s
15 WRC3 Teemu Asunmaa, M.Salminen 1m59.1s
16 RC1 Lorenzo Bertelli, S.Scattolin M-Sport Ford WRT 2m03.3s
17 WRC3 Egon Kaur, S.Simm Kaur Motorsport 2m09.5s
18 WRC2 Eyvind Brynildsen, V.Engan Toksport WRT 2m10.4s
19 WRC2 Adrien Fourmaux, R.Jamoul M-Sport Ford WRT 2m14.5s
20 WRC3 Eerik Pietarinen, A.Linnaketo 2m21.9s
21 WRC3 Mikko Heikkila, T.Luhtinen 2m23.1s
22 RC1 Janne Tuohino, R.Hamalainen Janpro 2m23.1s
23 WRC3 Johan Kristoffersson, P.Barth Kristoffersson Motorsport 2m25.0s
24 WRC2 Ole-Christian Veiby, J.Andersson Hyundai Motorsport N 3m04.0s
25 WRC3 Mattias Ekstrom, E.Bergkvist 3m11.9s
26 WRC2 Martin Prokop, V.Chytka M-Sport Ford WRT 3m13.4s
27 WRC3 Ville Ruokanen, T.Pallari 3m16.1s
28 WRC2 Georg Linnamae, V.Korsya ALM Motorsport 3m17.2s
29 WRC3 Fabrizio Zaldivar, C.del Barrio 3m31.5s
30 WRC3 Vladas Jurkevicius, A.Paliukenas 3m38.5s
31 WRC3 Gregor Jeets, K.Pannas 3m50.6s
32 RC2 Ville Hanhisuanto, M.Toppinen 4m07.2s
33 RC1 Pierre-Louis Loubet, V.Landais Hyundai 2C Competition 4m08.6s
34 WRC3 Pekka Keski-Korsu, M.Silfvast 4m10.8s
35 WRC3 Michal Solowow, M.Baran 4m15.3s
36 RC4 Sami Pajari, E.Malkonen 4m22.9s
37 WRC3 Tuomas Skantz, K.Kallio 4m26.1s
38 WRC3 Albert von Thurn und Taxis, B.Ettel 4m31.5s
39 WRC3 Ari-Pekka Koivisto, J.Karpijoki 4m40.5s
40 WRC3 Rakan Al-Rashed, H.Magalhaes 4m56.9s
41 RC4 Lauri Joona, A.Koponen 5m12.1s
42 WRC3 Adrian Chwietczuk, J.Baran 5m54.4s
43 WRC3 Lars Stugemo, K-O.Lexe 6m07.6s
44 WRC3 Jussi Keskiniva, M.Kaikkonen 6m09.9s
45 WRC3 Marko Viitanen, T.Suominen 6m23.3s
46 RC2 Bertrand Pierrat, A.Chevalier 8m56.2s
47 RC2 Luca Hoelbling, F.Fiorini 9m00.5s
48 WRC2 Sean Johnston, A.Kihurani Sainteloc Junior Team 9m43.0s
49 RC2 Mika Karppanen, A.Heinonen 9m43.7s
50 WRC3 Miguel Diaz-Aboitiz, D.Sanjuan 10m15.4s
51 RC4 Teemu Kortesalmi, S.Kuruaho 11m24.8s
52 RC4 Toni Herranen, S.Virtanen 13m52.6s
53 RC2 Pieter Cracco, J.Vermeulen 15m55.8s
54 WRC3 Mauro Miele, L.Beltrame 20m04.7s


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