Neuville wins thriller in Rally Italia Sardegna

Thierry Neuville

Theirry Neuville claimed victory in the Rally Italia Sardegna by less than a second over Sebastien Ogier in a thrilling battle that went to the final stage.

Split by 3.9 seconds heading into the final day, that margin had reduced to just 0.8 seconds heading into the last stage of the rally.

Neuville overturned that deficit through the 6.96km Power Stage to emerge victorious by 0.7s in one of the sport’s narrowest ever winning margins.

“We knew we had to give it everything we had this morning, and it was a truly fantastic fight with Sebastien,” Neuville said.

“The gap at the end was so small and we left absolutely nothing behind.

“We kept pushing as hard as we could without doing anything stupid. Battling against Seb is one of the most difficult things to do, so this is a precious victory.”

The Hyundai driver started the day by winning the opening three stages, before aggressive drives in the final stage saw both make mistakes.

In second, Ogier was handed an AUD$15,500 fine and a suspended points penalty after he departed the penultimate stage without his time card.

The errant time card was delivered to him by Toyota’s Ott Tanak, a move which officials deemed constituted ‘outside assistance’, though in their penalty acknowledged it was a “genuine human mistake without any deliberate cheating.”

Another infringement by the M-Sport crew throughout the season however will see Ogier stripped of the 22 points he scored in Sardinia.

Third home was Esapekka Lappi for Toyota, nearly two minutes off the back of the leading duo and a minute clear of Hayden Paddon in the second Hyundai.

Neuville’s advantage now stretches to 27 points in the drivers’ championship at the halfway mark.

The World Rally Championship next moves to Rally Finland on July 26-29 for the eighth round of the 2018 season.

Rally Italia Sardegna: Results (Top 10)

Pos Num Driver Nat Team Car   Time/Gap
1 5 Thierry Neuville BEL Hyundai i20 WRC 3:29:18.7
2 1 Sebastien Ogier FRA M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +0.7
3 9 Esapekka Lappi FIN Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +1:56.3
4 6 Hayden Paddon NZL Hyundai i20 WRC +2:55.2
5 12 Mads Ostberg NOR Citroen C3 WRC +3:10.9
6 11 Craig Breen IRL Citroen C3 WRC +4:31.7
7 7 Jari-Matti Latvala FIN Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +11:22.1
8 8 Ott Tanak EST Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +12:38.2
9 31 Jan Kopecky CZE Skoda Fabia R5 WRC2 +13:14.6
10 3 Teemu Suninen FIN M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +15:30.4

Rally Italia Sardegna: Power Stage (Bonus points)

Pos Num Driver Nat Team Car Time/Gap Bonus
1 5 Thierry Neuville BEL Hyundai i20 WRC 4:52.9 5
2 1 Sebastien Ogier FRA M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +1.5 4
3 8 Ott Tanak EST Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +1.6 3
4 4 Andreas Mikkelsen NOR Hyundai i20 WRC +2.5 2
5 2 Elfyn Evans GBR M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +4.3 1

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Nat Pts
1 Thierry Neuville BEL 149
2 Sebastian Ogier FRA 122
3 Ott Tanak EST 77
4 Esapekka Lappi FIN 70
5 Dani Sordo ESP 60
6 Andreas Mikkelsen NOR 56
7 Elfyn Evans GBR 46
8 Kris Meeke GBR 43
9 Jari-Matti Latvala FIN 37
10 Craig Breen IRL 34
11 Mads Ostberg NOR 26
12 Teemu Suninen FIN 24
13 Hayden Paddon NZL 22
14 Sebatien Loeb FRA 15
15 Pontus Tidemand SWE 11
16 Jan Kopecky CZE 9
17 Bryan Bouffier FRA 4
18 Gus Greensmith GBR 2
19 Lukasz Pieniazek POL 2
20 Pedro Heller CHI 1
21 Yoann Bonato FRA 1
22 Stephane Lefebvre FRA 1

Manufacturers’ championship

Pos Team Pts
1 Hyundai WRT 212
2 M-Sport Ford WRT 184
3 Toyota Gazoo Racing 161
4 Citroen WRT 129

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