Alghero (Italy) (AFP) – France’s five-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, driving an M-Sport Ford, won Thursday’s opening super special stage in the Rally of Italy in Sardinia.
The 34-year-old covered the two-kilometre circuit in the northwestern region of Alghero on the Mediterranean Island in 2min 02.7sec.
Norway’s Andreas Mikkelsen was second fastest in a Hyundai, at 0.1sec, followed by world championship leader Thierry Neuville of Belgium at 0.7sec.
Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala finished just eighth fastest after leading early in the day.
Ogier has the disadvantage of leading off on Friday, the first full day of racing with eight specials over 124 kilometres.
Results of first stage on Thursday
1. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Ford Fiesta) 2min 02.7sec, 2. Andreas Mikkelsen-Andreas Jaeger (NOR/Hyundai i20) 0.1, 3. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 0.7, 4. Elfyn Evans-Daniel Barritt (GBR/Ford Fiesta) 0.9, 5. Hayden Paddon-Seb Marshall (NZL-GBR/Hyundai i20) 1.6 , 6. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 1.7, 7. Teemu Suninen-Mikko Markulla (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 1.8, 8. Jari-Matti Latvala-Miikka Anttila (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 1.9, 9. Mads Ostberg-Torstein Eriksen (NOR/Citroën C3) 1.9, 10. Ott Tänak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 2.5
Special stage winners: Ogier 1 (SS1)