Thierry Neuville was the man to beat at the treacherous Rally Italia Sardegna which came to a close today. The Hyundai Motorsport driver crossed the finish line first to claim his second career victory in WRC, co-driven by Nicolas Gilsoul. Neuville took hold of the lead on Friday but Jari-Matti Latvala only made it hard for him, a battle that went all the way to the chequered flag.
Latvala thus crossed the finish line second in a VW Polo R WRC and co-driven by Miikka Anttila. Defending world champion Sebastien Ogier rounded off the top three with Julien Ingrassia by his side. Ogier’s P3 finish enabled him to extend his lead in the championship by 64 points over Hyundai’s Dani Sordo. Elsewhere, Neuville marked the fifth different winner in the current WRC season.
WRC Rally Italia 2016 Results
1. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul – Hyundai i20 WRC
2. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila – Volkswagen Polo R WRC
3. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia – Volkswagen Polo R WRC
4. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti – Hyundai i20 WRC
5. Ott Tanak/Raigo Molder – Ford Fiesta RS WRC
6. Eric Camilli/Benjamin Veillas – Ford Fiesta RS WRC
7. Henning Solberg/Ilka Minor – Ford Fiesta RS WRC
8. Teemu Suninen/Mikko Markkula – Skoda Fabia R5
9. Jan Kopecky/Pavel Dresler – Skoda Fabia R5
10.Karl Kruuda/Martin Jarveoja – Ford Fiesta R5
Ogier opened the stages on Friday but his pace was consequently undermined, which left Latvala and Neuville fighting for the lead. The two exchanged the lead in nearly every stage but it was the Belgian who topped the timesheet after day 1. Hayden Paddon on the other hand scored the fastest time on SS6 but crashed out of the rally ending his quest prematurely. Latvala ended the first day in second place, despite battling understeering issues in his Polo R WRC.
The battle stretched over to Saturday’s stages, Neuville remained untouchable despite a series of fast times from Latvala who was faster in the morning stages. The Volkswagen driver played it safe when rains hit some parts of the stages. Ogier on the other hand had some problems with his differential but stayed clear of Mads Ostberg in third. Neuville ended the second day with the overall lead.
Neuville started the final day with a clear lead of 16 seconds over Latvala. The route was relatively shorter meaning Latvala had very little to work with in terms of catching up with the leading Hyundai. That said, Neuville went ahead to win both stages before collecting his second WRC victory. In addition to claiming P3, Ogier also won the Power Stage which helped him extend the championship lead in the standings.
Fourth place went to the duet of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti in another Hyundai i20 WRC leading the best placed Ford Fiesta of Ott Tanak. Eric Camilli and Henning Solberg brought home two additional Ford Fiesta RS in sixth and seventh places.
Rally Poland is the next stop on the WRC calendar, scheduled to take place from June 30.