Volkswagen drivers Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala shared honours at Thursday morning’s Rally GB shakedown stage.
The Polo pair posted the same time to the tenth of a second through the two-mile Clocaenog test, with Citroen’s Kris Meeke three tenths of a down on the Volkswagens through the wet-but-drying stage.
Ogier said: “Shakedown was good. Slippery, like we can expect in these conditions.”
The Frenchman arrives in Wales having crashed on the final stage of Rally Catalunya while leading, which spoiled an impressive run.
“I want to end this season on a high and to forget what happened in Spain,” said Ogier. “For the last 15 rallies, we had 10 wins, two seconds and three small technical problems – this means 15 rallies in a row without a mistake, which is an incredible series of results.”
Latvala was equally upbeat about the final round of the season, an event he has contested 13 times before.
“I’m a veteran here now, so I have to be running with the boys at the top,” he said. “Shakedown was fine, no problems. The stage was maybe a little bit more slippery than we thought it would be, but I am happy.”
Meeke’s fastest run came on his second attempt at the stage. Outgoing Williams Formula 1 development driver Susie Wolff replaced Paul Nagle in the co-driver’s seat for the final shot, where Meeke was 2.9s slower without any pacenotes.
“Everything was good. The stage started to get a bit rutted in places, but it’s fine and Susie seemed to enjoy herself,” said Meeke.
Belgian Thierry Neuville appears to be relishing the absence of pressure after his demotion from the main Hyundai team. He was just two tenths down on Meeke and 0.7s ahead of Dani Sordo, the man who has replaced him in the #7 i20 WRC.
The third VW was missing from shakedown after Andreas Mikkelsen had to fly to Germany for an unknown medical issue to be checked.
Ex-F1 driver Robert Kubica had a difficult start, with gearbox problems striking his RK Ford on his shakedown run.
Rally GB officially gets under way from Llandudno on Thursday evening, with weather a hot topic as Storm Abigail is expected to hit overnight before the arrival of a serious rainstorm on Saturday.
LEADING SHAKEDOWN TIMES:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Sebastien Ogier VW 2m01.4s 2. Jari-Matti Latvala VW 2m01.4s +0.0s 3. Kris Meeke Citroen 2m01.7s +0.3s 4. Thierry Neuville Hyundai 2m01.9s +0.5s 5. Hayden Paddon Hyundai 2m02.4s +1.0s 6. Dani Sordo Hyundai 2m02.6s +1.2s 7. Mads Ostberg Citroen 2m02.7s +1.3s 8. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford 2m02.8s +1.4s 9. Kevin Abbring Hyundai 2m03.4s +2.0s 10. Stephane Lefebvre Citroen 2m03.6s +2.2s