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SÉBASTIEN Ogier topped the times in a sun-kissed shakedown at the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse on Thursday morning.

Jari-Matti Latvala and Thierry Neuville posted the benchmark time through the opening pass of the 5.40km Sorbo Ocagnano test near the Bastia service park. Ogier eclipsed that time on his second run and went even faster in his Ford Fiesta WRC on his third and final attempt.

“I was really happy during our pre-event test and now in shakedown. The feeling in the first run wasn’t fantastic but we did some small adjustments and I have to say I have a good feeling with the Fiesta on asphalt, at the moment better than on gravel,” Ogier said.

“The experience of the previous events is helping. In Monte-Carlo we had a little bit of dry asphalt and we’ve had more time for testing, so I feel more and more ready for each rally.

“The route is the same as last year and that was only six months ago, so it feels we’re running in a place where we have a lot of references already. Shakedown was very close and it could be similar during the rally,” added Ogier, who defends a convincing 2016 win.

The Frenchman was quickest by 0.6sec, but behind him less than a second covered the next six drivers in the dry and sunny asphalt test.

Hayden Paddon charged up the order from eighth to second with a strong final run in his Hyundai i20 Coupe. Kris Meeke completed the top three in a Citroën C3, 0.3sec adrift of the Kiwi. The Briton also produced his best performance in the last of three runs.

Latvala’s Toyota Yaris and Neuville’s i20 Coupe were tied in fourth courtesy of their opening time, 0.2sec behind Meeke. Ott Tänak rounded out the top half dozen, another two-tenths behind in a Fiesta.

Leading shakedown times:

1. Sébastien Ogier (Ford Fiesta) 3min 50.7sec
2. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 Coupe) 3min 51.3sec
3. Kris Meeke (Citroën C3) 3min 51.6sec
4= Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe) 3min 51.8sec
4= Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota Yaris) 3min 51.8sec
6.  Ott Tänak (Ford Fiesta) 3min 52.0sec
7. Dani Sordo (Hyundai i20 Coupe) 3min 52.2sec
8. Craig Breen (Citroën C3) 3min 52.7sec
9. Stéphane Lefebvre (Citroën C3) 3min 54.0sec
10. Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta) 3min 55.0sec

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.