Central European Rally: Ogier starts slowly

Central European Rally: Ogier starts slowly

The first two special stages of the Central European Rally, the penultimate round of the WRC world championship, took place on Thursday. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) occupies the lead ahead of Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford) and Sébastien Ogier (Toyota), 3rd almost 6 seconds behind. Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota), who can be crowned world champion for the second time in a row this weekend, is currently 4th.

Thierry Neuville is the first leader of the Central European rally, the penultimate round of the WRC world championship season which has the particularity of being contested in three countries: Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany. At the wheel of his Hyundai, the Belgian, third in the general classification, is in control at the end of the first two specials, scheduled for this Thursday evening and contested at night in less humid conditions than expected. Neuville, third in a first special which saw Ott Tänak (M-Sport Ford) prove to be the fastest before setting the scratch time for SS2, took the lead with a 1”2 lead over the Estonian , while Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) must for the moment be content with third place.

The Gapençais, whose opening co-driver this weekend is a certain… Julien Ingrassia, historic co-driver of the French driver before taking a step back from the category almost two years ago, is however already behind by almost six seconds (5”8) on the first in the ranking. The main thing, however, was elsewhere for the eight-time world champion, who made no secret of it when looking back on the following day. “I had no feeling in this special, it was really difficult. But the real start will be tomorrow. »

Evans goes straight, Rovanperä can dream

Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota), for his part, seemed worried. “It’s a difficult weekend ahead of us,” feared the young Finnish world champion who can secure his second title in a row on Sunday. For the moment, Rovanperä is only fourth, 5”9 behind Neuville, but ahead of Elfyn Evans (Toyota) already behind in the standings (8th at 10”7), the fault of a straight line during SS2. “I missed a crossroads, I pulled straight on, locking the wheels when braking. It’s a shame,” lamented the Welshman. The leader of the general classification (with 31 points ahead of Evans) was not asking for that much.

To be able to celebrate his second consecutive coronation on Sunday, the Finn must in fact not concede any points to his rival or hope that the latter does not finish the rally. For the moment, Evans’ misfortunes are Rovanperä’s happiness. But the weekend is still long.

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