Neuville seizes victory in Greece WRC round
Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe claimed their first win of the 2022 World Rally Championship season at Acropolis Rally Greece.
The Belgian pairing became the fourth different event winners this year, leading home team-mates Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja and Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera, as Hyundai Motorsport recorded its first-ever podium clean sweep in the top level of rallying.
Neuville/Wydaeghe showed form from the outset, claiming victory in the Super Special Stage at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Thursday.
The second day of the event belonged to nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche, with the pairing guiding their Ford Puma to victory in four of the seven stages, to hold a lead over team-mates Pierre-Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais heading into Saturday.
Trouble struck for several key contenders on Saturday, with an alternator belt failure forcing Loeb/Gamiche to retire from the event, while the championship-leading pairing of Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen limped through the day’s third stage, as their Toyota GR Yaris sustained significant rear damage after clipping a tree, costing the Finnish duo around 15 minutes.
Neuville/Wydaeghe capitalised to win three speed tests and charge to a lead of 27.9s heading into the final three stages on Sunday.
After Tänak/Järveoja took out the opening test on Sunday, and with a historic achievement in sight, the Hyundai Motorsport outfit issued team orders to ensure all three of the team’s entries would finish the event and lockout the podium, with Neuville/Wydaeghe claiming the rally victory by 15 seconds.
Despite a bruising event, Rovanperä continues to lead the championship on 207 points, ahead of Tänak on 154 points, while Neuville is third on 131 points.
In WRC2, Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen claimed their second consecutive class victory by 36.1s.
The next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is Rally New Zealand, which is set to take place from September 29-October 2.