Lots of the front-runners elected to take a cautious strategy on the opening stage of the day, which allowed M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen to shine.
The Finn, who has beforehand gained the WRC3 and WRC2 classes on Sardinia’s rough-hewn levels, took full benefit of the clear path that his highway place granted to assert the lead by 12.4 seconds.
Sordo, as one of many three drivers rotating by means of the season in Hyundai’s third automotive, additionally loved a beneficial highway place and gained the second stage convincingly.
On the best drawback all through the opening day was Toyota’s present championship chief, Elfyn Evans. Regardless of the handicap of being first on the highway, the Briton nonetheless managed to energy his Yaris WRC by means of to set the quickest time on stage three.
The morning loop ended with a second run by means of the identical stage that had opened the rally, however this time Suninen was unable to repeat his earlier efficiency. Sordo’s time afforded him a commanding 7.5 second lead as the sphere paused for its service halt.
Lots of the mechanics and engineers had a busy time in service, not least these tending to the Hyundai of defending champion Ott Tanak.
The Estonian misplaced virtually two minutes all through the morning as a thriller affliction affected the entrance finish of his i20 WRC, requiring the crew to rebuild his automotive.
Two potential front-runners had been taken out of the battle early on when Esapekka Lappi’s M-Sport Fiesta suffered engine failure on Stage 2 and the third Toyota of Takamoto Katsuta rolled on Stage 4. Each are anticipated to restart on Saturday however will play no half within the lead battle.
Two extra levels had been run after the service halt, with Sordo successful each convincingly to increase his total lead. Thierry Neuville had threatened to go quickest on Stage 5 till his i20 WRC lower out in the midst of a hairpin and agonising seconds had been misplaced earlier than it re-fired.
Neuville’s time was nonetheless fifth quickest behind these of Sordo, the recovering Tanak, Suninen and a vastly spectacular fourth quickest time for Hyundai ‘B-team’ driver, Pierre-Louis Loubet, in solely his third WRC begin.
On the ultimate stage of the day, Neuville’s stalling concern reappeared however he nonetheless leapfrogged six-time champion Sebastien Ogier’s Toyota for third place.
Day 2 will see the highway order modified and occasion chief Sordo will likely be compelled to clear a path for the remainder of the sphere, which tempered his enthusiasm after a commanding efficiency.
Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera, one other exterior contender for the drivers’ title, suffered a string of mechanical points that allowed Tanak to cross him for eighth on the ultimate stage of the day.
Tenth place total is held by WRC3 chief Oliver Solberg’s Skoda Fabia, with the entire high 5 runners within the junior class finishing the day in entrance of WRC2 class chief Pontus Tidemand.