Rallying: Belgian Thierry Neuville makes strong start in Finland
Thierry Neuville is on course to claim his maiden win in a world championship rally by setting the early pace in Finland
Last Updated: 04/08/13 10:56am
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.
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.