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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Ogier reclaims lead from Evans as title battle continues

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The seven-time champion ended the loop with a 5.2s benefit over team-mate Evans having began the day 1.4s in arrears.

A head-to-head title battle between Ogier and Evans went up one other notch because the rally lead modified arms thrice throughout 4 levels.

Ogier regained the lead on the primary check (Stage 8) however then misplaced the benefit as Evans gained Stage 9, earlier than the previous grabbed the lead again by successful Stage 10. The Frenchman then prolonged that lead by taking Stage 11 to stay on target to win an eighth world title.

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo inherited third total after team-mate Thierry Neuville made heavy contact with the obstacles early in Stage 9 simply moments after successful the earlier check.

Sordo ended the loop 28.2s behind however forward of Neuville, whereas Oliver Solberg maintained his robust exhibiting in fifth. Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota), Teemu Suninen (Hyundai), Gus Greensmith (M-Sport-Ford) and Kalle Rovanpera, who’s underneath group orders to run a conservative tempo, accomplished the WRC runners.

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It was Neuville who got here out of the blocks quickest as motion bought underway with a 14.80km move by way of the twisting hairpin-laden Bergamo mountain roads of San Fermo.

The Belgian claimed his second stage win of the rally as he stepped up his pursuit of the lead Toyotas.

“I attempted. I hope we will catch again a while – we’re solely 20s behind,” stated Neuville.

Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Picture by: Toyota Racing

Ogier emerged as Neuville’s nearest rival on the check however reached the cease management 1.7s slower. Nevertheless, the Frenchman was crucially 2.9s quicker than title rival Evans, which was sufficient to leap again into the lead of the rally by 1.5s.

“It was a brand new stage, so I used to be additionally not likely on it,” stated Ogier. “I loved driving the automotive, however I do not need to go too full threat.”

Evans added: “It wasn’t the perfect stage. I struggled for grip and appeared to be sliding much more than anticipated.”

Evans was fourth quickest behind Sordo in third and Solberg in fifth, because the Swede confirmed his Friday tempo was not a fluke.

M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux returned to motion after repairs have been accomplished to his Fiesta following a roll in Friday’s Stage 3.

Neuville’s quick begin to the morning was halted by an armco barrier 0.5km into stage 9. The Hyundai driver misplaced the rear of his i20 on a protracted, quick right-hander that resulted in a heavy frontal impression with the obstacles, spinning the automotive.

Regardless of the hefty hit and injury to the entrance of his automotive, Neuville continued at an honest tempo. The Belgian reached the stage end with the ninth quickest time, though the time loss demoted him to fourth total behind Sordo, who completed the stage in second.

“Very early on I misplaced the rear. I did some set-up modifications earlier than the stage and with the tyres not 100 per cent heat I began to slip,” stated Neuville.

“I used to be so shut to creating the nook however I did not. I misplaced the time re-starting the automotive principally.”

There was loads of pleasure on the entrance as Evans reclaimed the rally lead he misplaced on the earlier stage by successful the check with 3.8s margin over third quickest Ogier.

Solberg was fifth quickest however was sad along with his drive, labelling his driving as “completely horrible”. In the meantime, Greensmith was with out the total use of his brakes which dropped him into the clutches of Suninen because the battle for seventh intensified.

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC

Picture by: Toyota Racing

The lead modified arms for a 3rd time as Ogier gained Stage 12, the repeat of the morning’s first blast by way of San Fermo.

Ogier clinched his fourth stage win of the rally by 3.4s on Evans, making certain he headed into the morning’s remaining stage with a 1.1s lead.

“I do know that for you, it seems to be like a battle, however I maintain focussing on my drive solely,” stated Ogier.

Evans added: “To be trustworthy, it felt like an excellent run. We have been easy, however clearly not fairly quick sufficient.”

Extremely Neuville was second quickest and only one.7s shy of Ogier regardless of the heavy injury to the entrance of his automotive. Suninen climbed to seventh total after his greatest exhibiting in a Hyundai thus far resulted within the third quickest time forward of Solberg and Sordo, who set an identical occasions, with Evans solely sixth.

Ogier then prolonged his benefit earlier than noon service by successful Stage 11 as Evans dropped 4.1s behind his rival.

Brake points continued for Greensmith, whereas Suninen was fortunate to achieve the end when his left rear made contact with a barrier at a hairpin, inflicting injury to the automotive.

The rally continues this afternoon with two blasts round a stage on the Monza grand prix circuit.

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