The Hyundai Motorsports World Rally Team got their Arctic Rally Finland Lapland Rally off to a perfect start on Friday as Ott Tanak in the I20 Coupe WRC took two stage wins through Sarriojärvi both up and back and speaking following the action, the Estonian who takes a 16.2s lead over team mate’s Craig Breen and Paul Nagle into Saturday’s action said:

Let’s say that I’m happy, but it’s very early and there’s no reason to get carried away yet. This has been a rollercoaster kind of day, typical for Finland with very technical and up-and-down roads. It’s been a big job today, for sure, with road position and tyres playing their part. The car balance is OK but it can always be better so there are things we need to work on. At the moment, we are leading but the road position was different to our rivals so everything can change tomorrow. We need to keep focused and keep pushing.

Craig Breen and co-driver Paul Nagle in their first WRC event of the season had a great opening day finishing in second overall and speaking following the action the Waterford native said:

“It’s nice to be here with such unique conditions; it’s a special feeling to be in the woods, in the dark, doing 200kph – I definitely enjoyed it! I have had a good starting position, but I honestly don’t think I took the full benefit from that, particularly in the first stage. In the second run, I tried to push hard – perhaps a bit too much at the start because I suffered towards the end, losing studs in the last three to four kilometres. This is something that comes with time and experience. I know I can jump in the car after six months and be on the pace, but it takes time to refine the small things. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder, and it’s nice to have the confidence and security from a full programme.”

Thierry Neuville who ended the day in fourth place overall commented saying:

We’ve had a pretty satisfying start to this brand-new WRC event. Compared to what we saw in the pre-event test, we went quickly through the snow onto the gravel; the grip was higher, as was the tyre wear. I lost the first studs on the shakedown and then a few more this afternoon. The car was working well in those conditions and we had a good afternoon, making our way to P4 which gives us a good road position for tomorrow. We need to benefit from that and fight with the cars in front of us – and behind. At the same time, I am also continuing to build on my new working relationship with Martijn.

Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Andrea Adamo commented saying:

I would be lying if I didn’t say I am pleased to be holding first and second positions at the end of this opening day. At the same time, we must not forget we still have eight stages left this weekend. I have to say that my team – as I kindly asked them – have done a great job in preparing this rally. We are certainly in more representative positions to where I think we should be. The road position helps but we are only there because we had a poor performance in Monte-Carlo, so that’s nothing to make us proud. We are making the best out of what we have, and in this moment, we are doing it well.

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