WRC: Victory for Thierry Neuville in the Corsican thriller
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville clinched his tenth WRC victory in a career by winning Tour de Corse, the fourth round of the 2019 World Rally Championship season.
The Belgian in the #11 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, navigated by Nicolas Gilsoul, reached the top spot on a podium after a dramatic and close fight against Elfyn Evans (M-Sport Ford), who lost a lead with the punctured tyre on the last special stage, dropping to P3. Sebastien Ogier (Citroen) completed the podium.
Neuville is also a new championship leader, ahead of Ogier and Ott Tanak (Toyota).
The previous championship leader Ott Tanak (Toyota) was in the lead of the rally until the Special Stage 10 on Saturday afternoon. Then, at SS11, he had to stop to change a punctured tyre and dropped to P7. In the end, he was sixth.
After Tanak lost rally lead, Neuville made a fantastic pass on Saturday’s last stage Castagniccia, beating Evans by 16 seconds and taking the lead. Evans fought back on Sunday morning, defeating Neuville by 16 seconds on the penultimate stage and entering the Power Stage with 11.5sec advantage. But, catastrophy followed for Evans at Power Stage when he suffered a puncture and lost almost minute and a half.
Kris Meeke was the fastest driver at Power Stage, collecting an additional five points to regular two points that he earned with a ninth-place finish at Tour de Corse. The other point scorers in the French WRC round are Dani Sordo (Hyundai, 4th), Teemu Suninen (Ford, 5th), Ott Tanak (Toyota, 6th), Esapekka Lappi (Citroen, 7th), Sebastien Loeb (Hyundai, 8th), Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota, 10th).
After four championship rounds, Neuville is leading with 82 points on his account, two more than Ogier and five more than Tanak. Among manufacturers, Hyundai leads with 114 points, twelve more than Citroen. Toyota is third with 98 points and M-Sport Ford is fourth with 70 points.
There were also last-minute changes both in the WRC2 and Junior WRC categories. The Italian Fabio Andolfi took the WRC2 victory in the #38 Škoda Fabia R5 by beating Nikolay Gryazin in another Škoda by 3.9 seconds. Andolfi entered the last stage 0.7sec behind the Russian driver but he was 4.6sec faster at Power Stage. Kajetan Kajetanowicz is third in WRC2 class in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
In the Junior WRC class, the German Julius Tannert defeated Swedish driver Tom Kristensson by just 1.9 seconds after he was 6.2 seconds faster on the last stage. The third place went to another Swedish driver Dennis Radstrom. All Junior WRC competitos are driving Ford Fiesta Mk8 R2 machines.