Keen Breen takes charge of Estonia

The M-Sport Ford Irishman edged the FIA ​​World Rally Championship leader by a tenth in Visit Estonia Tartu’s winding 1.64km stage on Raadi Manor Park roads.

Elfyn Evans was one-tenth behind Toyota GR Yaris teammate Rovanperä after a searing opener in round seven of the season, in which the top six drivers trailed just 0.7 seconds.

The fastest time was sweet revenge for Ford Puma driver Breen. Twelve months ago, Rovanperä beat him by the same margin in this stage near the second city of Tartu.

On the second pass two days later, Breen nearly threw away a hard-earned second place when he slid off a rock and was lucky enough to limp into the nearby service park sanctuary without missing a beat.

Rovanperä only missed by a tenth


“I was so careful of the rocks in there and tried to be as clean as possible,” he smiled. “It’s a good start to the weekend. These are incredible steps and we can really let go.

Thierry Neuville finished fourth in a Hyundai i20, just 0.3 seconds off Breen’s benchmark time. His team-mate and home hero Ott Tänak was still two tenths down in fifth, despite his i20 being stuck in gear.

“Things like that don’t give you much optimism,” he smiled sadly.

Esapekka Lappi, who was fastest in the morning shakedown, competed in the top six in another GR Yaris.

Takamoto Katsuta’s GR Yaris was successfully repaired after running into shakedown and the Japanese rider finished seventh. Gus Greensmith, Oliver Solberg and Pierre-Louis Loubet complete the ranking.

Thursday’s opening followed a colorful departure ceremony in Town Hall Square


The stage followed the ceremonial start in the early evening when huge crowds gathered in Tartu’s charming town hall square to cheer on the competitors on their way.

Things get more complicated on Friday as the rally’s longest stage features 139.18km of action on identical morning and afternoon loops north and south of the city. The two laps are separated by assistance.

The pace will be hot from the start with the 24.35 km Peipsääre, the longest stage of the rally, which will start early at 07:45 local time.

• Full coverage of Rally Estonia will be available on WRC+ All Live hereincluding every stage broadcast as you go along with key interviews, reports and expert analysis from the service park


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