Hyundai's newest recruit Andreas Mikkelsen has made an auspicious debut with the team, as he leads Rally Spain at the end of the opening day of action.

The Norwegian heads up a tantalising battle for victory honours in the 11th round of the 2017 World Rally Championship, with just three seconds separating the podium positions and less than 13 seconds between the top-seven.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier is in second place with Citroen's Kris Meeke in third. A slow puncture saw Ford's Ott Tanak drop to fourth after a promising start.

"We could not have asked for a better start to our Hyundai Motorsport career," Mikkelsen said. "It has been a good day and I have been pleased with our approach. We started this morning carefully, to understand the car's behaviour and generally just finding our feet. A few changes to the settings allowed us to gain some time through the first Terra Alta run.

"The car felt very stable and there were no surprises. In the afternoon, we became more and more confident in the car. The final stage wasn't ideal; we thought we had a puncture so took it a bit easier. We made it to the end safely and it's nice to be fighting at the very top. It's really close but it has definitely been a positive start for Anders and myself."

Drivers' Championship contender Thierry Neuville holds seventh after the rally's six opening stages.

The Championship's only mixed surface event, Rally de EspaƱa got underway in gravel conditions on Friday with a repeat loop of three stages. The full gravel tests of Caseres (12.50km) and Bot (6.50km) were followed by the combined gravel/tarmac challenge of the mighty 38.95km Terra Alta.

Mikkelsen claimed his first stage win as a Hyundai Motorsport driver in the first run through Terra Alta (SS3) on Friday morning to take the lead of the rally. It means that Hyundai Motorsport has now taken stage wins and a rally lead with four separate crews throughout the 2017 season - underscoring the versatile performance of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

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