Neuville leads into final day of Rally Japan

He has a 6.5 second advantage over Elfyn Evans going into the final day of the 2022 WRC season

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Thierry Neuville will take a four second lead into the final day of Rally Japan on a day where he caught and passed Elfyn Evans.

Evans led the rally by three seconds over Neuville overnight and duly extended that advantage to 6.5 seconds over the morning.

But the afternoon belonged to Neuville. Strong pace, allied to Evans losing the same level of comfort in his Toyota, allowed Neuville to surge clear and beat his rival on all three of the afternoon’s tests.

There were supposed to be four as the Okazaki City was scheduled to be run twice, but a delay of almost an hour meant the event organizer scrapped the second pass and just ran one stage instead.

Neuville is known for his prowess on spectator tests, but doubled his lead on SS14 as he stretched a two second advantage into four with a stage win.

Ott Tänak is a lonely third overall on his final weekend in a Hyundai, 35.9s behind Evans but 24.6s clear of home hero Takamoto Katsuta.

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Tänak battled an i20 N Rally1 that wasn’t quite to his liking, while Katsuta survived a wild overshoot up a bank in the morning.

Sébastien Ogier is equally comfortable in his fifth position, 38.7s up on Gus Greensmith’s M-Sport Ford. Greensmith had intermittent power-steering issues to contend with while Ogier won two of the afternoon’s three stages.

Emil Lindholm leads the WRC2 category and is therefore on course to lift this year’s title, while 2022 World Rally champion Kalle Rovanperä is 11th overall following his spate of wheel-related dramas in the morning.