Neuville holds slender lead in Croatia Rally

Thierry Neuville

Thierry Neuville holds a slender lead at the head of the WRC Croatia Rally after the opening leg of the event.

The Hyundai driver leads Sebastien Ogier in second by 7.7s, with Elfyn Evans 0.3s further back in third.

Championship leader, Kalle Rovanpera, crashed out of the event on the first stage, the damage too extensive to allow him to rejoin tomorrow.

“It was the last downhill section which was really slippery,” Rovanpera said of his exit.

“I lost the car already in the entry of the corner, I never made the proper racing line, and we went straight off.

“A bit too much speed and understeer and that’s the result, my mistake.”

Kalle Rovanpera’s stricken Toyota

Rally leader Neuville also had a moment, launching his car onto two wheels after hitting a bank on the final stage of the day.

Ogier too had a narrow escape after he clouted an earth bank in the day’s first stage.

The Frenchman then put in a late run to overhaul Evans, going fastest in the last three tests of Friday’s running to finish the day second.

Evans had won SS3, preventing Neuville from sweeping the morning’s running.

Ott Tanak picked up a stage win later in the day but ended 31.9s away from Neuville in fourth, with Craig Breen rounding out the top five a further 22.9s away.

Eight stages are set to follow on Saturday, ahead of four on Sunday to complete the event.

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