Tanak leads Monte Carlo Rally after Suninen crash

Gap (France) (AFP) –

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Estonia's 2019 world champion Ott Tanak led the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally after Thursday's opening two specials marked by Finnish driver Teemu Suninen's spectacular crash.

Suninen was on target to set the quickest time in the first stage until his Ford slammed into a bank on a sweeping right-hander, flipping and rolling down a bank on the opposite side of the road.

Both Suninen and his co-driver Mikko Markkula escaped unhurt.

Tanak went on to clock the fastest time and followed up in the second stage to lead the standings by a matter of seconds from the Toyotas of Kalle Rovenpera and Elfyn Evans, runner-up to Sebastien Ogier in last season's championship which was seriously disrupted by Covid-19.

Ogier, hampered by brake issues on his Toyota, is placed fifth at almost 17sec ahead of Saturday's stages in this iconic rally being staged without fans due to the pandemic.

Saturday's action starts earlier than usual, at 0610 (0510GMT) so as to respect the 18h00 curfew in force in France.