WRC Spain: Ott Tanak makes the most of wet Barcelona conditions

Estonian driver Ott Tanak leads Rally of Spain following a sodden spectator stage near the centre of Barcelona

WRC Spain: Ott Tanak makes the most of wet Barcelona conditions

The DMACK World Rally Team star finished 2.7 seconds ahead of fellow Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Lorenzo Bertelli around the 1.8-mile stage.

Sebastien Ogier, who could secure his fourth straight World Rally Championship title this weekend, made a solid start with the third fastest time, finishing a further 0.8s down.

Italian Bertelli, first into the stage which ran through Montjuic Park, the former Spanish Grand Prix venue, enjoyed the best of the poor conditions.

For the start rain greeted Bertelli, the son of fashion designer Miuccia Prada, but by the time Ogier set off in his Volkswagen Polo R WRC, it had become torrential.

Tanak was typically understated and slightly concerned at how the car was feeling in the atrocious conditions.

"It was OK," he said. "The stage was really tricky, and maybe there's something to check. The rear diff felt a bit strange."

Ogier added: "I think it was a good time. I knew it would be difficult to match the guys who started earlier, but this is good for me.

"The stage wasn't too bad to drive, there was just so little grip.

"It's OK, now we'll see for tomorrow, which could be tough as well, with the rain coming after we did the recce in these gravel stages."

With the rain easing slightly as darkness set in, it allowed Skoda factory driver Jan Kopecky to make the most of the slightly shallower puddles and score the fourth fastest time in his Fabia R5, coming in five seconds behind Tanak.

Citroen pair Kris Meeke and Craig Breen finished tied in fifth place, 5.2s adrift, with both spelling out a similarly cautious approach.

Sixth-placed Thierry Neuville, a further half-a-second back, described the stage more succinctly than anybody as the Belgian Hyundai driver said: "That was like hell."

The first full day of action on Friday takes the crews into the hills of Tarragona for two loops of three stages with no service.

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