CLICK HERE for Rally Italia Sardegna leaderboard after SS1

Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has taken the early lead on Rally Italia Sardegna, after setting the pace on Thursday evening in the short 2 km Ittiri Arena test.

Ogier, who was quickest in the shakedown this morning, went head-to-head with Hayden Paddon through the former autocross arena, beating the Hyundai pilot by 1.3secs.

"A great start," Ogier told the official WRC site. "It's always good to be the fastest, especially here with such a lot of spectators and a great atmosphere."

Meanwhile, Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala hold joint second, 0.3secs slower, while Kevin Abbring and Andreas Mikkelsen tie for fourth, followed by Thierry Neuville and Paddon, both 1.3secs off the pace.

"A really great atmosphere here, I enjoyed it," Tanak said. "A good way to start the rally. We will try to put in a good result [now] - it is a very tough rally. We will need to be smart".

"The feeling is good now. I have to say that this morning I did not have the best feeling but I managed to relax and focus on the rally. No changes to the car - but the mind has changed," Latvala added. "This stage was very nice, one of the best that I have done for a long time".

Behind, Dani Sordo took eighth, with WRC2 class leader, Teemu Suinen and Mads Ostberg joint ninth followed by the rest.

Martin Prokop was 19th quickest, but drops to 43rd position having picked up a 5 minute penalty after his team broke a seal on his rear differential to make repairs following the last event in Portugal.

"Thanks to the stewards for giving me a 5 minute penalty," Prokop fumed. "These people are killing the sport, giving me the penalty and no conversation. I am very angry on this. I have lost my motivation."

Rally Italia Sardegna now begins 'proper' on Friday, with eight stages on the bill, totalling just over 100 competitive kilometres.

SS2, the 7.50 km Ardara-Ozieri 1 test, is due to start at 09.35 hours local time [08.35 hours UK time].

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