WRC Rally Catalunya: Ogier overcomes Latvala and Tanak to lead

Sebastien Ogier reclaimed the lead of a close-fought Rally Catalunya for a second time as he returned to the top with a stellar run on Friday's final stage

WRC Rally Catalunya: Ogier overcomes Latvala and Tanak to lead

Having set the pace on the final run of the morning loop, it was Ogier's Volkswagen team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala who stole a march on Friday afternoon's first three stages.

It wasn't only Latvala demoting Ogier - an impressive Ott Tanak mirrored the Finn's times in his M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC and pushed the World Rally champion back to third.

But Ogier grabbed back the initiative on Terra Alta, the longest stage of the rally, with an imperious performance in his Polo R WRC on the 22.17-mile stage.

His best time of 22m49.4seconds was 7.2 seconds clear of closest challenger Latvala - enough to hand the champion a 4.0s cushion over his team-mate ahead of Saturday's eight stages.

Tanak was the only man to go faster than Ogier at any point on SS9, and while he eventually dropped 13.6s to the champion, he holds a comfortable third after a standout performance - the Estonian having topped three stages on Friday, more than any other runner in the field.

Dani Sordo had a consistent day and ended SS9 as the best-placed of Hyundai's contingent in fourth, narrowly ahead of Mads Ostberg.

The Norwegian recovered from a puncture on the first running of Terra Alta to keep himself in contention for a podium as the rally returns to asphalt for its final two days of competition.

Andreas Mikkelsen was subdued throughout the day in the third Volkswagen but did overtake Hayden Paddon for sixth on the overall leaderboard with the third-quickest time on the final stage.

Kris Meeke, with much less experience of the Catalonian stages than his rivals, spent much of the day staying out of trouble and learning his way around, with his patience rewarded with a strong run on Terra Alta to leave him eighth overall.

Thierry Neuville recovered some confidence from a shaky morning loop to end the day in ninth, ahead of Elfyn Evans.

Follow day two of Rally Catalunya as it happens with Autosport Race Centre live from 8.15am UK time on Saturday

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS9:

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WRC Rally Catalunya: Volkswagen's Ogier extends advantage

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