WRC Rally Catalunya: Ogier leads, Ostberg and Kubica find trouble

Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier reclaimed the Rally Catalunya lead on Friday morning, after Mads Ostberg and Robert Kubica hit trouble

WRC Rally Catalunya: Ogier leads, Ostberg and Kubica find trouble

Ogier had led the field overnight after setting the pace in Thursday's opening stage in Barcelona, but dropped time to Ostberg on SS2 with the Norwegian setting the pace on the stage.

A stellar run from Ostberg on SS3 saw him leapfrog the world champion, but
Kubica got the jump on the pair after a blistering assault on the Caseres stage in his Ford Fiesta RS saw him set the fastest time by three seconds, to hand him a 3.6-second advantage.

Ostberg reclaimed a small amount of that lead as Ott Tanak went fastest in SS4, the Estonian himself moving in front of Ogier on the leaderboard, along with Hyundai's Dani Sordo.

But the order changed once again on Terra Alta, the final stage of the morning, as first Ostberg and then Kubica found trouble.

Ostberg had rivalled Jari-Matti Latvala's split times in the opening three checks, but dropped off massively towards the end of the stage after picking up a slow puncture and forfeited the best part of half a minute to the Volkswagen driver, whose tyres held up well on the longest stage in the rally.

Ill-fate also affected Kubica, who picked up a puncture in the opening split before suffering another later on.

The effect those had on Kubica's rally were far more detrimental, the Pole dropping more than five minutes on SS5.

Those problems were enough to hand the overall lead back to Ogier, although the Frenchman's advantage over team-mate Latvala is a slender 0.8s after an strong run from the Finn.

Tanak holds an impressive third after the first loop and was the only man close to either of the leading Volkswagen drivers on SS5, while a quiet but productive morning for Sordo places him fourth.

Ostberg's problems nevertheless leave him in the mix for a podium in fifth, just clear of Hayden Paddon, who had been fast all morning, and a subdued Andreas Mikkelsen in the third Volkswagen.

M-Sport's Elfyn Evans completed the loop in eighth, ahead of Citroen's Kris Meeke - who admitted he had plenty to learn about the morning's stages - and Thierry Neuville, who had started the day in second.

Lorenzo Bertelli was an early casualty, crashing not far into the opening stage of the day.

Pontus Tidemand leads the WRC2 field, by 30.9s from Jan Kopecky, with Teemu Suninen occupying third ahead of overnight leader Nasser Al-Attiyah.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS5:

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WRC Rally Catalunya: Sebastien Ogier wins opening stage

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