WRC - Novikov grabs shock early lead in Greece

Evgeny Novikov emerged as a shock Acropolis Rally leader as Sebastien Ogier, Mikko Hirvonen and Mads Ostberg all hit trouble on the opening stage.

WRC - Novikov grabs shock early lead in Greece

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Evgeny Novikov (Imago)

The 47-kilometre Kineta-Pissia stage claimed high-profile victims from the outset, including World Rally Championship points leader Ogier.

The Frenchman stopped with what Volkswagen would only describe as a 'mechanical problem'.

Hirvonen's Citroen made it to the finish despite a steering issue that cost him nearly six minutes, while Mads Ostberg reported that his M-Sport Ford's "wheel fell off" as he dropped three minutes.

Those that did make it through unscathed found themselves a long way off M-Sport driver Novikov's pace.

Second-placed Dani Sordo's Citroen is 20.6 seconds down on the Russian, but 15.7s ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala, who is now VW's main hope.

The Finn's team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen is fifth, behind Thierry Neuville.

Leg one of the shortened rally comprises just two stages, with the field now heading to service before tackling SS2 in darkness.

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