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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Neuville edges away from Evans, Ogier in pursuit

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Neuville and Evans began the day tied for the lead after ending Friday on equivalent instances, and the fiercely aggressive battle continued throughout the morning’s 4 phases.

Nevertheless it was championship factors chief Neuville who had the measure of the Welshman to maneuver right into a 4.7s lead because the crews headed for service.

Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier ensured the battle for victory remained between three drivers because the eight-time world champion held third 11.3 adrift of Neuville. Hyundai’s Ott Tanak maintained fourth [+52.2s] forward of M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux [+1m06.4s]. Takamoto Katsuta [+1m56.5s], Andreas Mikkelsen [+3m14.0s] and Gregoire Munster [+3m58.0s] rounded out the highest eight.

The anticipated rain showers stayed away from the phases however there have been spots of moisture within the air because the crews tackled stage 9 [Smerovisce – Grdanjci – 15.72km].

With the highway order reversed, the leaders confronted the dirtiest highway circumstances however it seemingly didn’t have an effect on joint rally leaders Neuville and Evans considerably.

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Whereas the pair began the day deadlocked, it was Neuville who edged clear into an 0.8s outright lead.

Regardless of dealing with the worst of the highway circumstances, Neuville delivered an impressed run to put up a time 0.5s adrift of M-Sport’s Fourmaux, who claimed his first stage win of the occasion up to now.

Adrien Fourmaux, Alexandre Coria, M-Sport Ford World Rally Staff Ford Puma Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Evans admitted he was “just a little bit regular” throughout his go that was 1.3s slower than Fourmaux. It proved to be a contested stage with Fourmaux, Neuville, Ogier, Tanak, Evans and the enhancing Mikkelsen lined by 4.2s.

Conditons remained dry by the point the crews reached stage 10, the longest of the loop.

As soon as once more Neuville and Evans couldn’t be cut up because the duo posted equivalent instances by way of the 20.77km Stojdraga – Gornja Vas check as Neuville held onto to his 0.8s rally lead.

The stage was gained by Ogier, who stepped up his cost to reel in Neuville and Evans. The Toyota driver took 0.3s out of the pair to chop the deficit to six.8s to stay firmly within the victory hunt.

Katsuta produced his greatest drive of the occasion up to now to finish the stage 0.4s however remained in a distant sixth total.

There was nevertheless a small drama for Tanak who drifted extensive at a left hander and clipped his proper rear on a kerb. It appeared the incident didn’t price the Hyundai driver an excessive amount of time regardless of ending the stage with the wheel barely bent. The Estonian was nevertheless faster than Fourmaux to increase the hole within the struggle for fourth to 11.6s.    

Neuville grabbed the headlines in stage 11 by chalking up his fifth stage win of the occasion after edging rally rival Evans by 0.9s. Evans admitted it wasn’t a simple process managing his tyre alternative of three softs, two wets and one onerous given the absence of the forecast rain.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, Hyundai World Rally Staff Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool

“0.9s is loads, I’m actually completely happy. I don’t suppose I may go any sooner in there,” stated Neuville, who moved right into a 1.7s total lead.

Third-placed Ogier dropped 1.6s to Neuville within the stage that included what he described as a “very shut name” over a bounce early within the check, that resulted in some injury to the entrance of the GR Yaris.

Tanak was solely a tenth slower than Ogier because the Hyundai driver confirmed a lot stronger tempo in comparison with Friday. 

Nevertheless, Neuville saved his greatest show till the ultimate stage of the loop outlining the work he had achieved in preserving his rubber.

The Belgian produced a dedicated effort which was rewarded with a time 2.9s sooner than Ogier and three.0s faster than Tanak and Evans. Ogier managed to log his time regardless of being pressured to run a moist tyre on the rear of his automotive to cut back the puncture danger on one worn tyre in his bundle.

“Fairly an honest stage, the onboard have to be actually cool. We had a greater tyre administration of the loop and saved good profiles of the tyres,” stated Neuville.

Evans added: “It was actually slippery and I wasn’t so pleased with my run to be sincere.”

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photograph by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

The battle for fourth took one other swing in direction of Tanak as Fourmaux reported a misfire from his Ford Puma’s engine through the stage.

In WRC2, Nikolay Gryazin continued to guide the category kind Citroen team-mate Yohan Rossel by a margin of 59.9s.  

The crews will repeat the phases this afternoon to conclude Saturday’s leg.



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