WRC Rally Finland: Meeke builds early lead over Volkswagens

Kris Meeke already holds a comfortable Rally Finland lead over the WRC Volkswagens after problems for early sparring partner Ott Tanak

WRC Rally Finland: Meeke builds early lead over Volkswagens

Living up to VW chief Jost Capito's prediction that running eighth on the road would allow Meeke's PH Sport-run Citroen to dominate, the Northern Irishman ended Friday morning's five-stage loop 18.8 seconds clear of Jari-Matti Latvala's Polo.

But for the day's first three stages, Meeke had been in a close fight with Tanak.

Finland is the second of the two rallies DMACK has put specific focus on, and Tanak immediately replicated the kind of pace that nearly brought him victory in Poland at the start of July.

A stage win on Jukojarvi put Tanak with 0.7s of Meeke, but he then found himself spinning on a straight on the following Surkee stage due to what turned out to be a suspension breakage on his Ford Fiesta.

Tanak nursed the car through the rest of that stage and Horkka, so heads for service still in 10th overall and 53.9s off the lead.

Latvala won two of the morning's five stages and would be right with Meeke but for a mistake on Jukojarvi that damaged a tyre.

It eventually delaminated and ripped chunks from the VW's rear bodywork and wing, though this only cost Latvala 16s and made little difference to his pace thereafter as he quickly moved back up from fifth to second.

Sebastien Ogier is making the best of being first on the road in third, just 4.5s behind Latvala.

The third VW of Andreas Mikkelsen is fourth, but just 0.2s ahead of Thierry Neuville, despite the Hyundais struggling for pace during the morning.

Neuville's team-mate Hayden Paddon is back in eighth, with Kevin Abbring 12th behind WRC2 leader Esapekka Lappi as he stands in for the injured Dani Sordo.

Meeke's team-mate Craig Breen ran as high as fourth thanks to some very rapid stage times. Outbraking himself and having to turn round in an escape road on Horkka meant he dropped to sixth, though, ahead of Mads Ostberg.

Follow the afternoon Rally Finland action with Autosport Race Centre Live from 1pm UK time

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS6:

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WRC Rally Finland: Tanak and Mikkelsen share early lead

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Rally Finland: Sebastien Ogier crashes on opening day

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