Neuville edges Toyotas on Italy shakedown

Hyundai tops the shakedown timesheet as its other crews struggle


Thierry Neuville topped shakedown for Rally Italy, pipping Toyota pairing Esapekka Lappi and Elfyn Evans for fastest time.

Lappi had been fastest out of the blocks early on and has also diverged from the standard tire strategy, as the only driver to take the option of four softs on shakedown that carries over to his overall rally allocation.

The remaining Toyotas, including Next Generation team driver Takamoto Katsuta, all took two softs, with the rest of the field stacking their allocation with six hards.

Neuville had pipped Lappi to fastest time by 0.3s but the returning Toyota driver, whose seat had been taken by reigning world champion Sébastien Ogier for Rally Portugal, already seemed to have found the groove.


“Car feels good. Keep it on the line and that’s it. There’s definitely a benefit in the road position,” he surmised.

Behind the front three, Pierre-Louis Loubet continued where he left off after Portugal by leading the line for M-Sport, clocking the fourth-quickest time 1.6s off Neuville’s pace.  Loubet and team-mate Craig Breen sandwiched current points leader Kalle Rovanperä on the shakedown timesheet.

Gus Greensmith was the only driver to make a fourth pass of the shakedown test, commenting after his first run that “what we’re trying doesn’t work.”

His second run remained well off the front-running pace but by the fourth and final run, he’d improved to a 2m17.7s and seventh place.


Though a Hyundai had topped shakedown it was more bad news than good from Olmedo across the whole team.

Dani Sordo could only muster the 10th-fastest time on shakedown, repeating concerns he’d expressed on his way to an attrition-assisted third place in Portugal.

“At the moment I don’t have a lot of feeling in the car, sliding a lot. Not a lot of grip,” he said.

Ott Tänak meanwhile suffered an engine issue, managing only a single run on shakedown. He eventually returned to the service park after a long spell stopped on a road section but did not re-emerge for a second attempt.

“We are still investigating right now,” Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet confirmed to DirtFish. “It’s on the engine side but nothing to worry [about].”

Shakedown Results

  1. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 2m15.4s
  2. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota) +0.3s
  3. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota) +0.5s
  4. Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (M-Sport Ford) +1.6s
  5. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota) +1.8s
  6. Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (M-Sport Ford) +2s
  7. Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (M-Sport Ford) +2.3s
  8. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota) +2.6s
  9. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (M-Sport Ford) +2.7s
  10. Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai) +3.8s