Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen has taken the early lead on Rally de Espana after setting the pace this evening in the short 3.20 kilometre Barcelona super special stage.

Mikkelsen completed the stage in 3 minutes 39.1 seconds, 1.8 seconds up on team-mate, Sebastien Ogier.

"We decided to attack right from the first special stage and are counting on gaining more time on softs here than we might end up losing on old tyres tomorrow. Part one of the plan went well: we opened about a two-second gap and lead going into the first real day of rallying tomorrow. Let's see whether part two of the plan works out," Mikkelsen noted.

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"We made it through the opening special stage cleanly. The Rally Spain really gets going tomorrow," Ogier added.

"There were an incredible number of spectators on the Montjuic, and it was great to get the weekend started against this backdrop. From tomorrow we will focus on the duel with my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and, if possible, wrapping up the Driver and Co-Drivers' title here in Spain. I don't think we will be the ones under the greatest pressure."

Thierry Neuville, who set the pace in the shakedown this morning, was third fastest in his Hyundai i20 WRC, while VW's Jari-Matti Latvala took fourth, 0.5 seconds up on the second Hyundai of Dani Sordo.

"The opening stage was short but demanding. The Polo was superb. I reckoned on losing a little time today, and fit just one soft and three hard tyres on the car. I think having used fewer soft tyres will pay dividends from tomorrow, when the battle with Sebastien really begins," Latvala remarked.

Citroen duo Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg were sixth and seventh, with M-Sport team leader Mikko Hirvonen eighth. Martin Prokop and Hayden Paddon rounded out the top ten.

Rally de Espana now starts 'proper' on Friday, with two loops of three stages on the bill. SS2, the 7 kilometre Gandesa 1 test, is due to begin at 08.33 hours local time [07.33 hours UK time].

RallyRACC-Rally de Espana: Overall standings after Stage 1 (Top 10):

1. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 3m 39.1s M
2. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 01.8s M
3. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 02.9s M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 03.1s M
5. Dani Sordo Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +00m 03.6s M
6. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 04.0s M
7. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 04.6s M
8. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 05.9s M
9. Martin Prokop Jipocar Czech National Team Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 07.2s M
10. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +00m 08.4s M


11. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 09.1s M
12. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 10.4s M
13. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R5 +00m 11.8s WRC2
14. Yuriy Protasov M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 12.1s
15. Ken Block M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 12.9s

WRC2 standings after Stage 1 (Top 3):

1. Sebastien Chardonnet Citroen DS3 R5 3m 50.9s WRC2
2. Bernardo Sousa Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 02.1s WRC2
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 02.5s WRC2

Notable retirements:


M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial