Croatia Rally: Evans caught Neuville

Croatia Rally: Evans caught Neuville

Victim of a puncture in SS6 which allowed Elfyn Evans to get closer then take a time in front, Thierry Neuville was able to react to end the day tied with the Welshman at the head of the Croatian rally. However, Sébastien Ogier made an important comeback.

Thierry Neuville played to scare himself in Croatia. Dominant during the morning loop, with three stages won out of four contested, the Belgian did not start the afternoon in the best way. Indeed, after pushing Elfyn Evans back ten seconds by winning SS5, the Hyundai driver saw the sky fall on his head. Halfway through the ten kilometer course, Thierry Neuville hit a stone on the side of the road, which caused a puncture. An incident which caused him to lose ten seconds, with Elfyn Evans coming back on his heels.

Enticed by the possibility of taking control of the rally, the Welshman gave everything in SS7, setting the second time just three tenths of a second behind his teammate Sébastien Ogier. Recovering almost two seconds on Thierry Neuville, the Toyota driver managed to move into first place in the general classification. But that only lasted for one special. The 23.63 kilometers of the Krasic-Sosice special, the last one contested this Friday, saw Thierry Neuville erase his entire gap on Elfyn Evans.

Ogier in the hunter’s position before the rain

Consequently, the Belgian and the Welshman are within the same tenth of a second at the end of this first day of competition. However, they cannot display serenity because the threat Sébastien Ogier is becoming more and more present. Taking at least nine seconds from all his rivals on this last special stage alone, the Gapençais came back to just under seven seconds behind the two co-leaders and intends to have his say in the victory. “ It was a good stage, I’m sure I’m happy with this one, confided the eight-time world champion after SS8. We are happy to reduce the gap after suffering from the position on the road in the morning. Tomorrow (Saturday), it will be the start of a completely different rally, which will be slower and more slippery. »

Indeed, the weather conditions should change completely this Saturday with the rain which is expected and which should make the course much more tricky. After reaching the podium in Sweden and Kenya, Adrien Fourmaux plays placed on the Croatian roads. The driver of the Ford M-Sport team concluded the day in fifth place overall, almost 53 seconds behind the co-leaders.

Ranking after SS8 (out of 20) – Friday April 19, 2024
1- Thierry Neuville – Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL-BEL/Hyundai) and 1h05’15”3
Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (GBR-GBR/Toyota) mt
3- Sébastien Ogier – Vincent Landais (FRA-FRA/Toyota) at 6”6
4- Ott Tänak – Martin Järveoja (EST-EST/Hyundai) à 41”1
5- Adrien Fourmaux – Alexandre Coria (FRA-FRA/Ford M-Sport) at 52”7

Special stage winners
Neuville: 4 (ES1, ES3, ES4, ES5)
Evans : 2 (ES2, ES6)
Ogier: 2 (SS7, SS8)

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