Neuville crashes out of Ypres lead

Running slightly wide into a ditch had enormous consequences for Thierry Neuville

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Thierry Neuville has crashed out of the lead of Ypres Rally Belgium, running wide and getting sucked into a ditch.

Neuville had been comfortably in control of his home round of the World Rally Championship, 17.2 seconds ahead of Hyundai team-mate Ott Tänak.

But early on the penultimate stage of Saturday, Neuville ran wide on a slow left-hander and got stuck into a ditch.


Spectators managed to extract the Hyundai but the off had caused too much damage for Neuville to continue in the rally.

The accident elevated Tänak into the lead, who produced a stunning stage time just when he needed it most.

Elfyn Evans had been closing the gap between the pair, but Tänak beat the Toyota by 3.1s on SS15 to lead the rally by 6.3s.

“Yeah, it was a good stage,” said Tänak. “Pushing a bit and was a clean stage.”

Esapekka Lappi is now on track for a second consecutive podium finish, 57.7s down on the lead.

Adrien Fourmaux has lost what has become fourth place to Oliver Solberg as he checked into Saturday’s penultimate stage two minutes late after being stopped by the police.

Fourmaux and Solberg have been embroiled in a close battle all day – even setting exactly the same time on the previous stage.


The M-Sport driver had been 1.6 seconds ahead of the Hyundai prior to SS15 Wijtschate, but in starting two minutes after he was supposed to, Fourmaux earned a 20s penalty and was therefore a net 18.4s down before leaving the start-line.

He was one second faster than Solberg and therefore sits 17.4s behind in sixth overall.

Explaining why he was late to the stage, Fourmaux said: “Yeah it just happened that there were a lot of people on the road section, we tried to overtake people but we have been stopped by police.

“We need to have a look if we can do something [to get the penalty annulled] but actually yeah we were two minutes late.”

Solberg felt he was “floating a lot” on SS15 after over-heating his tires, describing his stage as “not perfect”. But as it stands he is now on course to secure his best ever WRC finish.

Words:Luke Barry