Neuville retakes Acropolis lead from Ogier

Just one stage after losing first place, the Hyundai driver bounced back on the longest stage yet

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Thierry Neuville has reclaimed the lead of Acropolis Rally Greece from Sébastien Ogier, just one stage after losing it.

The Hyundai driver came into Saturday with a 2.8-second gap to Toyota’s Ogier, but on the day’s opening Pavliani test he lost considerable ground and fell 7.8s behind Ogier in the overall classification.

But the next stage gave him his best chance of moving back ahead as the 17.7 miles of Karoutes was the longest stage yet.

M-Sport duo Jourdan Serderidis and Ott Tänak opened the road and swept off some of the dust, making it a little easier for those behind pending they had picked the right tires.

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta and then Elfyn Evans lowered the stage’s benchmark time, before the drivers contending for the rally victory came through.

Kalle Rovanperä was just 1.3s slower than team-mate Evans, then Ogier set a new fastest time by half a second.

But while he was in the stage it was already looking like he would be losing the lead, as Neuville was 2.2s faster at the first split and was only growing that advantage at each checkpoint.

Neuville completed Karoutes 9.8s faster than Ogier, earning him the rally lead back by two seconds.

Rovanperä’s gap to the front is now 25.2s, and Evans is 42.1s back in fourth.

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo has moved up to fifth after his team-mate Esapekka Lappi stopped with a puncture and lost two minutes.

“There was a massive stone,” Lappi said. “Lucky it’s only a puncture. I mean, it was so big…”

He also fell behind Katsuta, who is just 5.1s behind Sordo.