Thierry Neuville has become the fourth different winner in the 2017 WRC season after triumphing at Tour de Corse today afternoon. Neuville was one of two Hyundai drivers on Rally Italy podium today, the other being Dani Sordo who finished third in another Hyundai i20 WRC, behind the Ford Fiesta WRC of championship leader Sebastian Ogier.
Jari Matti Latvala gave Toyota the best place by crossing the finish line in fourth in a Yaris WRC. He also won the final live Power TV stage, claiming all five points. Ogier claimed four points in this stage, followed by Craig Breen, Sordo and Neuville. Breen finished fifth in a Citroen C3, leading the Hyundai of Hayden Paddon and Andreas Mikkelsen in a Skoda Fabia R5. That was P7 overall for Mikkelsen but a P1 for the ex-VW driver in WRC2 category.
Kris Meeke was the fastest man on Friday in a Citroen C3, beating both Ogier and Neuville. Latvala encountered understeering problems in his Yaris WRC while his teammate Juho Hänninen met more trouble in form of a fire at his right rear. Meeke continued to dominate and went ahead to win SS2.
Ogier managed to stop Meeke’s dominance on SS3 by going quickest during the Friday afternoon session. Meeke still managed to stay close in second while Neuville was further back in third just ahead of his Hyundai brother Sordo. That said, Meeke ended Friday with a lead of 10s over Ogier.
Neuville turned things around on Saturday by winning the first stage, with Ogier coming second while Meeke put his Citroen in third.Things turned around in the following stage when Meeke retired with smoke coming out of his car, he had to coast all the way to finish line. Neuville thus inherited the overall lead. Ogier also had issues with his pace and the Frenchman was not happy.
“It’s obviously not fast enough and I would like to know why. I can’t explain it. I didn’t have the feeling it was so bad, but obviously it wasn’t good. We have to try to find something because this isn’t the pace I want,” said Ogier.
SS7 was great for Ogier, he was the fastest here and even managed to trim Neuville’s lead from 8s to 2.2s. Former teammate Latvala was second in this stage. SS9 on Sunday provided new challenges, here, the Hyundai’s were faster with Neuville leading Sordo. Ogier had an equal pace to that of his rivals but failed to go any faster. The Ford driver managed to pass Sordo but Neuville’s lead was too far built.
Rally Argentina is next up on the calendar. Slated for April 27.
Photos by Florent Gooden, Francois Flamand, Jaanus Ree,