Gap (AFP)

Estonian Ott Tänak took the lead on Thursday in the Monte-Carlo Rally by winning the first two specials on the program for the first day of the event, which opens the World Rally Championship (WRC) behind closed doors.

Ott Tänak (Hyundai), 2019 world champion, leads the Toyota of young Finnish Kalle Rovanperä and Briton Elfyn Evans, 2020 runner-up, after the two races totaling 41.36 km timed on wet roads in the Massif du Dévoluy, near Gap (south-eastern France).

Seven-time world champion and defending champion Sébastien Ogier, who complained of a brake problem, was 5th 16.9 seconds behind Tänak.

The Belgian Thierry Neuville, winner of Monte-Carlo last year but who has just changed co-driver, is just ahead of Ogier in 4th place.

The only exit from the road in the premier class is that of the Finnish Teemu Suninen (M-Sport Ford), who left in a barrel when he held the best time of SS1.

The serious things will start on Friday with 104.70 km timed in five stages.

The first will start very early, at 6:10 a.m., in order to respect the curfew in force at 6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. GMT) in France.

© 2021 AFP