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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Neuville in command as Rovanpera closes on title  

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The Hyundai driver emerged from a dramatic Saturday with a 26.2s lead over Rovanpera, having began the day 36.4s adrift of the Finn. 

Neuville claimed two stage wins throughout the morning earlier than slashing the deficit to Rovanpera to 10.9s after the latter overshot a hairpin. The Belgian assumed the lead when Rovanpera switched into cruise mode after his title rival and Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans crashed out on stage 11.

With Rovanpera understanding Evans’s title hopes are all however over, he cruised via the afternoon permitting Neuville to open up a wholesome lead.

M-Sport’s Ott Tanak ended the day in third, 1m49.1s adopted by Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier (+2m20.2s) and team-mate Takamoto Katsuta (+2m47.9s). 

Hyundai’s Teemu Suninen (+2m58,8s), Gregoire Munster (3m52.2s), Pierre-Louis Loubet (+9m05.8s), prime Rally2 competitor Adrien Fourmaux (9m12.3s) and WRC2 chief Emil Lindholm (9m18.8s) accomplished the highest 10. 

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Crews confronted dry roads for the primary time since Thursday as Saturday’s afternoon started. Whereas the street floor was not moist there was loads of slippery mud that had been dragged on to navigate.

Ogier coped with the situations one of the best to attain a primary stage win of the occasion to this point on stage 12 (Schärdinger Innviertel, 15.72km). The Frenchman pipped rally chief Neuville by 1.5s, who was eager to not overload his tyres.

Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

“First time of the weekend we’ve a little bit of a grip, however within the mud, it is extraordinarily slippy. The grip modifications are literally larger than earlier than,” mentioned Ogier. 

Tanak loved a clear run to set the third quickest time forward of Katsuta and Rovanpera, who posted an identical instances, each 4.9s adrift.

After struggling for confidence in the course of the morning loop, Katsuta joked that his Toyota engineers managed to “change his mind” leading to a a lot stronger efficiency. The run elevated the Japanese again forward of Suninen into fifth general.

With Evans now absent from proceedings, Rovanpera might afford to take further care on the muddy sections which meant the deficit to Neuville grew to 14.5s. 

That hole elevated to 26.7s as Rovanpera continued to undertake cruse mode via Stage 13 (Mühltal 27.15km), the identical piece of street the place he overshot a hairpin left within the morning. 

“It’s kind of harder [having to survive]. Often, it is simpler when you’ve gotten correct tempo [but] now if you find yourself braking extra and a few sections you try to be quick it is not really easy,” mentioned Rovanpera. 

“However anyway I feel we’re doing OK. The one aim is to complete now.”

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

The battle for the stage win was the closest of the rally as far as Ogier took the spoils by 0.1s from a charging Tanak, with Neuville, 3.5s adrift.   

Katsuta constructed on his improved displaying by taking one other 1.9s out of Suninen to take care of his fifth place general. 

The ultimate stage of the day, held at evening, proved to be arguably the hardest of the rally due to the mud on the street. Ogier likened it to a Rally GB gravel stage as he rigorously navigated the check.

“I used to be simply making it via on this one, it is probably not gratifying when you’ve gotten completely no grip with slick tyres.”

M-Sport duo Tanak and Loubet discovered how slippery the floor after operating vast right into a ditch on the identical left-hand nook. The pair escaped the hazard to succeed in the stage finish shedding 30.4s and 25.1s respectively.

Tanak, operating with out hydraulic stress was unusually offended with himself on the stage finish.  

“I had a silly intuition to tug the handbrake and it locked the entrance wheels,” mentioned Tanak. 

The stage was claimed by Rovanpera who mentioned he “wished to drive a bit” as he took the stage by 0.5s from Neuville.  

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Picture by: Toyota Racing

Kalle Rovanpera, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

“I simply wished to finish the day with one way or the other an excellent feeling, so I attempted to drive a bit. It is good to be on the end of the day, it is robust on the market,” mentioned Rovanpera. “I feel that is the hardest tarmac situations I’ve ever seen, I do not suppose you possibly can name it Tarmac on this stage.”  

4 extra phases await the sector on Sunday to conclude the rally.

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