Ott Tanak has set the early pace at Rally Finland upon the resumption of the World Rally Championship following its summer break with the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver claiming a slender leader over championship leader Thierry Neuville.

After Citroen dominated the Shakedown, the French manufacturer looks set to challenge again after a tricky first half of the season which culminated in the sacking of Kris Meeke. While Citroen’s Mads Ostberg and Craig Breen are still expected to fight at the sharp end, it was Toyota’s Tanak who grabbed the early advantage by winning the opening stages on Thursday night by 0.7s from Hyundai’s Neuville.

Defending WRC champion Sebastian Ogier has maintained his place at the front in third place for M-Sport Ford with Neuville’s teammate Andreas Mikkelsen in fourth with less than one second splitting the top four.

Esapekka Lappi represents the fastest starter from the home nation with the Finn in fifth for Toyota ahead of the Citroen duo Ostberg and Breen.

Fellow Finnish Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala is in eight place in front of M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans who set an identical time to Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon on SS1 to round out the top 10.

It leaves the final premier class contender Teemu Suninen in 11th place for M-Sport Ford with Fabio Andolfi leading the WRC2 class for Skoda.