Top 15 classification after SS1 at Rally Turkey

Andreas Mikkelsen will take a slender lead into the first full day of Rally Turkey on the event’s return to the World Rally Championship after an eight-year absence, while defending champion Sebasitan Ogier struggled outside the top 10.

Thursday night’s 2km opener twisted around Marmaris’ marina area to mark Rally Turkey’s return to WRC for the first time since 2010, with Hyundai’s Mikkelsen taking SS1 honours with victory by 2.5s from Citroen’s Craig Breen.

Back-to-back winner in Finland and Germany Ott Tanak grabbed third place for Toyota ahead of fellow WRC title rival Thierry Neuville for Hyundai.

Top WRC2 challenger Kajetan Kajetanowicz in the Pirelli-shod Ford Fiesta impressed in joint-fourth place, equalling Neuville’s time, ahead of fellow WRC2 competitor Jan Kopekcy in sixth with the Skoda Fabia R5 package profiting on the tight and slow speed opening stage.

Kopecky’s effort edged Esapekka Lappi into seventh place on the overall classification for Toyota with Citroen’s Mads Ostberg in eighth.

With Jari-Matti Latvala in ninth for Toyota, Elfyn Evans led the M-Sport Ford charge down in tenth – but just 4.3s off Mikkelsen in the top spot – with Skoda’s Pontus Tidemand just missing out on the top 10 in the WRC2 machine.

That left M-Sport Ford duo Teemu Suninen and Ogier outside the points places early on, with defending WRC champion missing his braking after the jump on SS1, putting him down to 14th.