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Photo Credit: Uros Modlic/Croatia Rally

FIA World Rally Championship points leader Kalle Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Haltunnen kicked off their bid to win the Croatia Rally in the best possible way by topping the times in the shakedown this morning.

In dry conditions and an ambient temperature of five degrees centigrade, the pair were only fifth quickest after the opening runs, improved on their second attempt and then clocked the best time of 1m52.5s on their third pass over the short 3.65-kilometre Okić stage in their Toyota GR Yaris Rally 1.

Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Jarveoja had been the fastest after the first runs in their Hyundai i20 N Rally 1. They also improved on each of their three attempts to finish third quickest behind team-mates Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe, who jumped up to second when they made the fourth pass. The Belgian pairing set a time just 0.1s shy of Rovanperä’s benchmark.

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Photo Credit: Uros Modlic/Croatia Rally

“The target is to fight for victory,” said Neuville. “We were fast here last year, however, we know we are struggling with the car still on Tarmac. Let’s see what we can do this weekend.”

“I never drove on the slick tyre in the test – it was full wets,” said 2019 FIA World Rally Champion Tänak. “It’s quite important to get the feeling on the slick tyres today, but so far the feeling is good.”

Lappi and Janne Ferm were the fourth fastest in their Toyota. “It felt good,” said Lappi. “Now it’s dry conditions and the rain is [coming] during the weekend. There will be a lot of variation, so it’s not going to be so simple. First, we need to finish – that’s already a big target.”

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Photo Credit: Uros Modlic/Croatia Rally

After hosting one of the most epic deciding stages in the 50-year history of the FIA World Rally Championship last April, the Croatia Rally is back and all set to create another batch of high-speed sporting memories.

Follow live results from Croatia Rally here.

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