Top 15 WRC classification after SS6 at Wales Rally GB

In-form Ott Tanak has maintained his recent momentum to lead the opening stages of Wales Rally GB from last year’s winner Elfyn Evans by almost nine seconds, while WRC champion Sebastien Ogier dropped off the pace with gearbox problems.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver stormed into the lead with victory on Friday’s opening stage as overnight leader Esapekka Lappi suffered a half-spin on SS2 to plummet down the classification in the sister Toyota.

Tanak, who has won the past three consecutive WRC events, sealed a hat-trick of stage wins to move nine seconds clear before the two runs at Slate Mountain where Elfyn Evans trimmed his lead to 8.9s at the end of SS6.

The M-Sport Ford driver holds second place 6.5s ahead of the third Toyota of Jari-Matti Latvala who claimed victory on the final stage of Friday morning’s route.

Teemu Suninen, who topped the shakedown yesterday, moved up to fourth place thanks to a strong showing on SS6 for M-Sport Ford to push WRC championship leader Thierry Neuville into fifth place as the lead Hyundai driver.

Craig Breen heads up the Citroen challenge in sixth, just 1.1s off Neuville, with Lappi recovering from his early off to take seventh place.

M-Spot Ford’s Ogier dropped to eighth place and his Wales Rally GB challenge hangs in the balance following a spin which caused a gearbox break. The defending WRC champion had to complete the final two stages of Friday’s opening loop without first or second gear and will also need to return to the service park unaided.

Mads Ostberg holds ninth place for Citroen 1.6s ahead of Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon with teammate Andreas Mikkelsen off the pace in 11th.

Kalle Rovanpera continues to lead the WRC2 class for Skoda 37.9s in front of Pontus Tidemand.