Top 15 classification after SS4 at Rallye Deutschland

Ott Tanak has picked up where he left off having taken victory at Rally Finland by leading the opening stages of Rallye Deutschland with a useful early advantage over nearest rival Sebastien Ogier.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver led after claiming the win on the ceremonial opener, seeing off the challenge from a host of WRC2 cars, but initially lost his lead on Friday morning’s first stage to Ogier.

But consecutive stage wins to complete the morning loop has seen the Estonian retake the overall lead with a 7.2s advantage on the defending WRC champion.

The M-Sport Ford driver holds second place by just 3.7s from current WRC championship leader Thierry Neuville, to see the top three in the standings lockout the provisional podium places in reverse order, as the trio pulled away from the chasing pack.

Hyundai’s Neuville is 8.8s up the road on Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi with Dani Sordo rounding out the top five at his team’s home round.

Jari-Matti Latvala’s late charge on SS4 sees him move up to sixth place for Toyota ahead of M-Sport Ford’s Elfyn Evans with Andreas Mikkelsen over 10 seconds back for Hyundai in eighth place.

It was another frustrating start for Citroen with Craig Breen its strongest challenger down in ninth place, already over half a minute behind leader Tanak, with team-mate Mads Ostberg rounding out the top ten.

Teemu Suninen holds 11th for M-Sport Ford after picking up damage on SS3 but was able to continue.

In WRC2, familiar leader Jan Kopecky heads up the early classification for Skoda with a 5.4s advantage on Citroen’s Yoann Bonato.