Meeke stays ahead in Rally GB after rain-soaked morning

London (AFP) –


Britain's Kris Meeke held onto his lead after Friday's rain-soaked opening loop of speed tests at the Wales Rally GB.

The Toyota Yaris driver failed to win any of the four muddy and slippery gravel road special stages, but consistent performances kept him six seconds clear of Thierry Neuville.

Less than 10sec covered the top six, but Meeke retained his advantage despite a spin in Dyfnant when he missed a braking point and overshot a hairpin in a slippery section that trapped several others.

"It was tricky for everyone in the challenging conditions," he said. "The stages were soaking wet and we're glad to be here. Let?s see how the conditions develop in the afternoon.

"It looks like the rain may have passed but it's still going to be soaking wet and full of mud."

Neuville climbed from fourth to second in his Hyundai i20 in the morning's closing Aberhirnant stage, preventing a clean sweep of the top three places for Toyota Gazoo Racing.

A joint-fastest time from Jari-Matti Latvala in Aberhirnant promoted the Finn to third, despite sliding into a ditch in Dyfnant and surviving a big moment in the following stage.

He was 0.2sec behind Neuville and 0.3sec ahead of championship leader Ott Tanak, who yielded a few seconds after earlier climbing to second when quickest in Dyfnant.

World champion Sebastien Ogier was just 2.3sec behind him in fifth after flirting with a ditch in Aberhirnant, the Frenchman also coping with a cracked windscreen in his Citroen C3.

Standings after SS5:

1. Kris Meeke-Sebastian Marshall (GBR/Toyota Yaris) 38m 3.1sec, 2. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) at 6sec, 3. Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 6.2, 4. Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 6.5, 5. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Citroen C3) 8.8, 6. Craig Breen-Paul Nagle (IRL/Hyundai i20) 9.8, 7. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Citroen C3) 14, 8. Andreas Mikkelsen-Anders Jaeger (NOR/Hyundai i20) 20.2, 9. Teemu Suninen-Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 28.4, 10. Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin(GBR/M-Ford Fiesta) 44.5