Rallying: Belgian Thierry Neuville makes strong start in Finland

Last Updated: 04/08/13 10:56am

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Thierry Neuville during the opening day in Finland

Thierry Neuville during the opening day in Finland

Sky Bet

Thierry Neuville is on course to claim his maiden victory in a World Championship rally, after setting the pace on the opening day in Finland.

The Belgian posted the fastest time in two of the day's six stages to open a lead of 5.2 seconds over Sebastien Ogier's Volkswagen.

Neuville had finished a career-high second in his Ford Fiesta on his last outing in Italy.

Ogier, meanwhile, who currently leads the World Championship standings by a huge 64 points, took the opening stage by posting a time that was 1.2 seconds faster than team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland.

Longest stage

Ogier also edged the longest stage of the day - the 8.88 mile third - to find himself tied with Neuville who had taken stage No 2.

But a disappointing fifth stage for the Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen who had started strongly.

The Finn, fastest in stage four, lost 16 seconds on winner Mads Ostberg and a crucial 12.9 to Neuville who claimed the lead overall.

And it was even worse for Latvala who was forced to retire after breaking the left-rear suspension arm of his car on stage two.

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