Tanak leads after opening day in the Arctic

Rallying - WRC Arctic Lapland Rally - Rovaniemi, Finland - February 26, 2021 Estonian Hyundai driver Ott Tanak in action during the shakedown of the FIA WRC Arctic Lapland Rally Hannu Rainamo/Lehtikuva via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Hyundai's Ott Tanak led after the first day of the Arctic Rally on Friday with the Estonian winning the opening two stages in Finnish Lapland.

The snow and ice rally, based in Rovaniemi, is the second round of the season and the first time the championship has ventured within the Arctic Circle.

Tanak won the first stage by 3.6 seconds and was then almost 10 faster than anyone else in the next one run in the evening dark.

"This has been a rollercoaster kind of day, typical for Finland with very technical and up-and-down roads," added the 2019 world champion.

"At the moment we are leading but the road position was different to our rivals so everything can change tomorrow."

Irish driver Craig Breen made it a Hyundai one-two at the top of the leaderboard, 16.2 seconds off the pace, with Finland's Kalle Rovanpera third for Toyota.

"It’s a special feeling to be in the woods, in the dark, doing 200kph," said Breen.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier was ninth for Toyota with 49.8 seconds to make up after having to run first and open the road.

Saturday is the longest day and the action features a further six stages.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)

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