Neuville storms into Sardinia lead, Ogier crashes

Thierry Neuville threw caution to the wind and was rewarded on SS14


Thierry Neuville is the new leader of Rally Italy Sardinia, making up two positions in one stage as he jumped Esapekka Lappi and Sébastien Ogier who crashed out.

A dramatic Saturday afternoon continued to unfold as Ogier crashed not long after beginning the Erula – Tula stage – putting an end to a miserable afternoon loop for the Toyota driver.

That allowed Hyundai to take a 1-2 overall, but not in the order in which the stage began as Neuville crossed the finish line some 26.9 seconds faster than his team-mate Lappi to jump up into first.

Neuville therefore holds a 23.8s advantage over his team-mate with one stage remaining on Saturday.

This was much to the delight of the new rally leader, who said the target has been achieved for the day.

“That’s good news but unfortunately a shame for Séb. Luckily they are OK because in these conditions it’s easy to go off,” he said.

“The target was to keep the pressure and obviously we managed that well, so we have to be satisfied.”

But Lappi explained the reasons behind the slower time and said there is little reason to fight for now.

“When I saw Séb it was clear that you don’t fight,” he said. “It was an easy decision to back off.”

Ogier’s crash promoted Kalle Rovanperä into third place, although the reigning champion had no one around him.

But it wasn’t all smiles for Rovanperä who was unhappy with his tires.

“I don’t have any tires left. All of our soft tires are in quite bad condition and I had just one hard on the car,” he explained.

“I am not happy to hear about Séb but for sure the plan was to just get through because so much stuff is happening.”

Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo complete the top five.