WRC Rally Italy: Hyundai's Sordo holds Sardinia lead on opening day

Hyundais Sordo will be holding the tour of Sardinia on the opening day
Hyundai 'Super-Sub' Dani Sordo leads the overnight lead after Day 1 of the World Rally Championship in Italy as championship leader Elfyn Evans ended day five.
Many of the front runners took a cautious approach to the opening phase of the day which allowed M-Sport's Teemu Suninen to shine.
The Finn, who had previously won the WRC3 and WRC2 categories on the hard-hewn stages of Sardinia, used the clear path that his street position allowed to take the lead by 12.4 seconds.
Sordo, as one of the three drivers who drove through the season in the third Hyundai car, also had a favorable road position and won the second stage convincingly.
Although his teammates Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville are battling for the drivers 'title, the Spaniard is focused on repeating his 2019 win in Sardinia to help Hyundai win the Manufacturers' Championship.
The biggest downside during the opening day was Toyota's current championship leader Evans with the handicap of being first on the road, but the Briton still managed to push his Yaris WRC through to set the fastest time on the third stage.
The morning lap ended with a second run through the same stage that opened the rally, but this time Suninen failed to repeat his earlier performance.
Sordo's time gave him a confident lead of 7.5 seconds when the field paused for his duty stop.
Many of the mechanics and engineers were very busy, not least those who took care of defending champion Ott Tanak's Hyundai.
The Estonian lost nearly two minutes over the course of the morning when a mysterious ailment hit the front end of his i20 WRC and the team had to rebuild their car.
Hyundais Sordo will be holding the tour of Sardinia on the opening day
Two potential front runners were taken out of the fight early when Esapekka Lappi's M-Sport Fiesta suffered an engine failure on stage two and Takamoto Katsuta's third Toyota rolled on stage four.
Both are expected to restart on Saturday, but will not play a role in the leadership battle.
After the stop, two more stages were driven, with Sordo winning both convincingly in order to extend his lead.
Neuville had threatened to be the fastest on stage five until his i20 WRC crashed in the middle of a hairpin and excruciating seconds were lost before it was fired again.
Neuville's time was still fifth fastest behind that of Sordo, the recovering Tanak, Suninen and an impressive fourth fastest time for Hyundai B-Team driver Pierre-Louis Loubet in just his third WRC start.
Neuville's stalling problem reappeared on the last leg of the day, but he still skipped six-time champion Sebastien Ogier's Toyota for third place.
Sordo will be forced to clear a path for the rest of the field tomorrow, changing the running order for day 2.
Behind Sordo, Suninen, Neuvillle, Ogier and Evans stood the British youngster Gus Greensmith, who celebrated his most competitive day in the WRC and finished sixth overnight in his M-Sport Fiesta WRC. Greensmith is 26.4 seconds ahead of Loubet.
Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera, another outside contender for the drivers' title, had a number of mechanical issues that allowed Tanak to overtake him in eighth on the final stage of the day.
Tenth place overall goes to Skoda Fabia from WRC3 leader Oliver Solberg. All five top runners in the junior category finish the day before WRC2 class leader Pontus Tidemand.
WRC Rally Italy stages 1-6
Item
great
driver
team
dare
gap
1
RC1
Dani Sordo, C. del Barrio
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
Hyundai
1h12m40.9s
2
RC1
Teemu Suninen, J. Lehtinen
M-Sport Ford WRT
ford
17.4s
3
RC1
Thierry Neuville, N. Gilsoul
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
Hyundai
35.2s
4th
RC1
Sebastien Ogier, J. Ingrassia
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Toyota
36.0s
5
RC1
Elfyn Evans, S. Martin
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Toyota
51.9s
6th
RC1
Gus Greensmith, E. Edmondson
M-Sport Ford WRT
ford
1m07.1s
7th
RC1
Pierre-Louis Loubet, V. Landais
Hyundai 2C competition
Hyundai
1m33.5s
8th
RC1
Ott Tanak, M. Jarveoja
Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT
Hyundai
1m53.7s
9
RC1
Kalle Rovanpera, J. Haltunen
Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Toyota
2m32.3s
10
WRC3
Oliver Solberg, A. Johnston
Skoda
3m01.2s
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