Solberg retires after violent roll, Tanak leads

The Hyundai driver ran into trouble in the first corner of the first forest stage of the rally resulting in a heavy crash.

Solberg ran wide in the first corner of the 11.75km test with about 300 meters to run. The rear of the Swede’s i20 N exited a ditch before being thrown into a roll, landing on its wheels on the other side of the road.

A frustrated Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson emerged from the wreck unscathed but the i20 N sustained significant damage.

It is unclear at this point whether the team will be able to fix the car to allow Solberg to rejoin the rally.

It was the Swede’s second crash of his rookie year after spinning out of Rally Croatia, resulting in his i20 N bursting into flames.

Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

Solberg’s teammate Ott Tanak won the stage to overhaul overnight leader and Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville, who struggled for confidence and dropped 8.6s.

Despite not being entirely happy with his car’s handling, Tanak finished the test 2.7s faster than Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi.

“There’s no doubt it’s going to clean up a lot for Kalle and Thierry, so we have to take the advantage now,” said Tanak, who moved into the overall lead.

“For sure, it’s not comfortable in the car, but that’s the only way we have for now. We have to feel uncomfortable today.”

M-Sport’s Craig Breen was third fastest ahead of Toyota’s Elfyn Evans and Adrien Fourmaux (M-Sport).

Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera was 6.3s down on Tanak when he saw the stage after revealing there was more cleaning than he expected to be ahead on the road.

Rovanpera’s Toyota teammate Takamoto Katsuta lost in a 360 degree spin, while Pierre-Louis Loubet had a lucky finish after touching a rock at the top of a corner.

Lappi reiterated his strong start to the day by edging out Tanak by 0.3s to win Stage 3 to cut the latter’s rally total to 5.0s.

Breen was third fastest to retain fourth overall behind Evans, who was 0.2s slower than Rovanpera, while the Finn ended the opening two stages 10.8s adrift of leader Tanak in fifth overall .

There was drama for M-Sport’s Fourmaux when the Frenchman clipped a rock in a ditch with the front end of his Puma, forcing the 27-year-old to stop seven kilometers into the stage.

Fourmaux and co-driver Alexandre Coria managed to repair a suspected damaged steering arm to allow them to slowly complete the stage, but lost nearly 17 minutes in the process. The couple was sitting in the seventh before the incident.

An additional seven stages await teams to compete on Friday’s itinerary.

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