Paris (AFP)

Britain's Kris Meeke (Toyota) topped the Rally of Great Britain, 12th in 14 World Rally Championship (WRC), after the rainy opening on the famous Oulton Park circuit Thursday night.

He was ahead of Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 2 sec 1/10, Norwegian Petter Solberg (Volkswagen), who ended his professional career at the age of 44, 3 sec 3/10 and the French Sébastien Ogier (Citroen) 3 sec 8/10.

Ott Tänak (Toyota), leader in the drivers standings with a 17-point lead over Ogier and 30 over Neuville, lost 8 seconds 8/10 after briefly stopping on the track.

"The engine cut, dropped the Estonian, as often terse.I did not have any light, (the headlights) pointed to the top of the trees and I missed it (the junction)."

After this 3.58 km entry, Friday takes the pilots to the heart of the matter for two loops, one of four, the other of five special, in the forests of North Wales, for all 118.25 km timed.

In the rain, expected elsewhere throughout the weekend.

"The plan is to drive from the ground up," announces already Ogier, hunting behind Tänak for a seventh world title with a third different manufacturer, after Volkswagen in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and M-Sport Ford in 2017 and 2018.

The Frenchman has won five times the event, a record, in the last six editions (four with Volkswagen, one with M-Sport Ford).

In the midst of a goodbye tour, Solberg, World Rally Champion in 2003, Vice-Champion in 2002, 2004 and 2005 and Rallycross World Champion in 2014 and 2015, is engaged in WRC2, the lower category.

© 2019 AFP