Neuville leads Rally Italy after Superspecial

After the opening superspecial stage on Thursday evening at Rally Italy, Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville
leads the event he won last year with a scratch time 0.2 seconds quicker than Ott Tanak after a stuck wiperblade after Ittiri Arena stage's watersplash slowed M-Sport Ford driver Tanak slightly, but his time was still enough to split the Hyundais of Neuville and third-placed Dani Sordo.

M-Sport driver Elfyn Evans took fourth on an event that is not expected to suit his DMACK tyres but topped a resurgent Hayden Paddon, who had a breakthrough performance on the championship's previous round in Portugal last month. Portugal winner Sebastien Ogier will be the weekend road sweeper as the championship leader but still brought the car back in an equal time to Paddon.

A trio of Citroens rounded out the top 10, but it was Andreas Mikkelsen taking the mantle of fastest C3 WRC after starting the year in WRC2 with Skoda, but now he heads teamleader Kris Meeke and Craig Breen. The three Toyotas of Jari-Matti Latvala, Esapekka Lappi and Juho Hanninen all struggled on the opener, filling the immediate spots outside of the top 10 respectively. Yohan Rossel topped the WRC2 runners through the stage in his Citroen DS 3 R5, 5.9s down on Neuville's benchmark.

Top Ten Positions after SS1:
Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Thierry Neuville, N.Gilsoul Hyundai Motorsport 2m01.8s
2 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja M-Sport World Rally Team 0.2s
3 Dani Sordo, M.Marti Hyundai Motorsport 0.4s
4 Elfyn Evans, D.Barritt M-Sport World Rally Team 0.5s
5 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia M-Sport World Rally Team 0.9s
5 Hayden Paddon, S.Marshall Hyundai Motorsport 0.9s
7 Mads Ostberg, O.Floene M-Sport World Rally Team 1.0s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 1.1s
9 Kris Meeke, P.Nagle Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 1.2s
10 Craig Breen, S.Martin Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT 1.6s

8th June, 2017