WRC Catalunya: Mikkelsen maintains lead on first day for Hyundai

Andreas Mikkelsen completed a fine first day as a Hyundai World Rally Championship driver by completing Friday's Rally Catalunya gravel stages at the top of the times

WRC Catalunya: Mikkelsen maintains lead on first day for Hyundai

Mikkelsen lost the lead briefly after the opening test of the afternoon - when he slipped 0.3 seconds behind the privateer Ford Fiesta of Mads Ostberg - but was straight back to the front after stage five and stayed there after the second run through the 24-mile Terra Alta test, despite a damper problem.

"It's been a really good day for me," said Mikkelsen. "To be honest, it's been fantastic.

"OK, in the last stage we had a problem with a damper - it was crashing through from about halfway through the stage and that was quite distracting.

"But I feel really at home with this car already, I can tell I'm going to like this one!"

Mikkelsen will have to learn the i20 Coupe WRC all over again tomorrow morning, when he starts on asphalt.

Heading for service in Salou, where the cars will go through a complete set-up change ahead of a weekend on asphalt, it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who was Mikkelsen's nearest rival.

Recording the fastest time on the day's final stage allowed the M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC driver to close the gap to the lead to just 1.4s.

Ogier's day had been saved by the occasional asphalt sections mixed into the Spanish gravel.

Running first on the road, he expected to be further down the order.

"I'm happy with this place," he said. "We had to push really hard on the Tarmac, this was the only place we could make a difference."

Had it not been for a spin on SS4, Kris Meeke's Citroen C3 WRC might have been out at the front.

The Briton recorded the fastest time of all on SS5 and was 0.8s down on Ogier through the second run on Terra Alta to end the day third overall and three seconds from the summit.

"That was so frustrating," said the Briton. "I just caught the lip of the Tarmac and it spun us. I had to reverse, forward, reverse.

"It was really close to the end. But anyway, we're here and it's a good position to be in."

Ogier's team-mate and winner last time out in Germany Ott Tanak is fourth, having lost the feeling he enjoyed with his Ford Fiesta WRC in the morning.

Ostberg was a hugely frustrated fifth, having struggled through SS6 with the heater stuck fully on.

Spaniard Dani Sordo is sixth for Hyundai with his fellow i20 WRC driver Thierry Neuville - Ogier's chief title rival - just behind.

Toyota drivers Juho Hanninen and Esapekka Lapppi sandwich Stephane Lefebvre's ninth-placed C3, while the third Yaris WRC of Jari-Matti Latvala retired with what is thought to be an engine fault after SS5.

Elfyn Evans is 1m22.4s off the lead in 11th after his DMACK tyres wilted in the heat.

Teemu Sunien leads WRC by 1m17s despite encountering a powersteering problem aboard his M-Sport Fiesta R5 on the final stage.

Leading times after SS6

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 1h11m56.3s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 1.4s
3 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 3.0s
4 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 6.3s
5 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen M-Sport World Rally Team Ford 7.1s
6 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 10.8s
7 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai 12.8s
8 Juho Hanninen, K.Lindstrom Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 33.6s
9 Stephane Lefebvre, G.Moreau Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT Citroen 1m02.2s
10 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Toyota 1m05.5s


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