Neuville and Ogier set identical fastest times

Nothing to separate two of the overall top three on the penultimate Saturday stage in Croatia


Sébastien Ogier and Thierry Neuville set identical times on the penultimate test of Rally Croatia’s second day as the victory battle intensified.

Just under 10 seconds covered Ogier, his Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans and Hyundai’s Neuville heading into the 6.9-mile Krašić – Vrškovac stage.

Neuville was fastest until the final couple of miles of the stage where Ogier clawed back the time and the duo ended up with equal-best efforts of 5m32.1s.

They were one second faster than Evans, who is now under three seconds ahead of third-place driver Neuville and is now 6.5s adrift of his rally-leading team-mate Ogier.

Arctic Rally Finland winner Ott Tänak extended his advantage over the cars behind in fourth place with the fourth-fastest stage time, but he fell further adrift of the podium places.

Adrien Fourmaux is on course for an impressive fifth-place finish on his top-flight WRC debut. He set the seventh-fastest time and is now almost 49.5s adrift of Tänak.


Photo: M-Sport WRT

The second M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Gus Greensmith set the slowest time of the eight remaining leading World Rally Cars. He continues to run in sixth place overall and admitted that “there weren’t many places where I could have gone faster”.

Fresh from picking up his second stage win of the weekend, Takamoto Katsuta registered the fifth-fastest time on SS15 to move within 25s of Greensmith’s sixth position – an impressed Greensmith labelled Katsuta’s run as “really fast”.

Craig Breen remains in eighth place overall, unable to make significant inroads compared to the cars ahead following a puncture on the day’s opener that cost him two minutes.

2C Competition Hyundai’s Pierre-Louis Loubet was unable to start the stage, after putting his i20 Coupe WRC into a ditch on SS14.

Russian Nikolay Gryazin made it back-to-back WRC2 stage victories as he homes in on Teemu Suninen’s second place.

The Volkswagen Polo GTI R5 driver was fighting for the lead before powersteering issues cost him almost a minute and a half. He went 3.3s quicker than M-Sport’s Suninen on SS15 and the gap between the duo is now 15s.

Mads Østberg still holds a class lead of over a minute on the first rally of his WRC2 title defense.

In WRC3, Emil Lindholm is keeping the class leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz honest. Lindholm beat three-time European Rally Champion by 1.8s to reduce the gap between the top two to 43.2s.

Chris Ingram’s third place is coming under increasing threat from the recovering Yohan Rossel. Citroën C3 Rally2 driver Rossel went 6.3s faster than Ingram to cut the gap to 24.5s – that gap was over a minute after the morning loop and Rossel’s roll.


Photo: M-Sport WRT

Esports star Jon Armstrong took up the lead of Junior WRC on stage 14 after long-time leader Martin Koči picked up a puncture. After stage 15, Armstrong’s advantage over second-place Lauri Joona stands at 16.4s.

SS15 times

1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 5m32.1s
= Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota) +0.0s
3 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +1s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai) +3.1s
5 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +4.5s
6 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +7.1s

Leading positions after SS15

1 Ogier/Ingrassia 2h01m59.2s
2 Evans/Martin +6.5s
3 Neuville/Wydaeghe +9.4s
4 Tänak/Järveoja +34.5s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Renaud Jamoul (M-Sport Ford) +1m24s
6 Gus Greensmith/Chris Patterson (M-Sport Ford) +2m19.2s
7 Takamoto Katsuta/Daniel Barritt (Toyota) +2m43.5s
8 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Hyundai) +3m45.7s
9 Mads Østberg/Torstein Eriksen (Citroën) +6m45.9s
10 Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula (M-Sport Ford) +7m50.5s