More drama for Hyundai drivers on Safari Rally

Esapekka Lappi has suffered another technical issue, while Thierry Neuville clattered a rock

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Thierry Neuville’s hopes of picking up maximum Sunday points on Safari Rally Kenya have been curtailed by an impact with a rock, which has broken the right-rear suspension on his Hyundai i20 N Rally1.

Midway through the Hell’s Gate stage Neuville clattered a very large rock that had been pulled into the middle of the road, which caused immediate damage to his car.

Neuville had been the fastest driver on Sunday until that point, thus putting him in prime position to score the maximum seven points for the final day’s classification. He’s now fallen to third in the Sunday standings and must limp back to service.

“Impossible to avoid,” Neuville lamented. “I don’t know where they come from but they were massive, two of them.”

Title rival Elfyn Evans is set to benefit from Neuville’s trouble. But he had sympathy for Neuville’s situation: “It’s a shame. Sometimes it’s a bit of a lottery like that.”

There was more bad news in the Hyundai camp, as Esapekka Lappi suffered a nightmare start to his Sunday.

Less than a mile into the first stage of the day, Malewa, Lappi sustained a puncture, costing him time. Then on Hell’s Gate his transmission failed, leaving him to coast to the finish line.

“Transmission finished,” said Lappi. He added, sarcastically: “It was such a good decision to drive yesterday.”

Ott Tänak now tops the Sunday standings by 0.3s from Evans, which is worth seven points to the fastest driver across the final six stages of the rally.

But he too encountered strife, spinning out on Hell’s Gate and needing to reverse to get pointing the right way again. Despite that moment, he has still climbed from 10th to 7th in the overall classification – though that improvement doesn’t bring any points benefit on its own under the new-for-2024 points system.

Kalle Rovanperä continues to hold a comfortable lead ahead of Takamoto Katusta, who in turn still has a minute in hand to Adrien Fourmaux despite picking up a front-left puncture on the rough Malewa test.

“Lottery stage,” said Katsuta after his puncture. “Quite stupid to be honest.”

Three stages of Safari Rally Kenya remain, with second passes of Malewa, Oserian, and the Hell’s Gate powerstage still to come.

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