Neuville captures first win of the season at WRC Tour de Corse, Corsica

  Hyundai WRT’s Thierry Neuville won the Tour de Corse, Corsica, Round 4 of the WRC (World Rally CHampionships). Neuville topped the leaderboard by 54.7 seconds in a Hyundai i20, having crashed out of the lead in both Monte-Carlo and Sweden earlier in the year.

The Hyundai WRT driver becomes the fourth different driver to win in the opening four rounds of the new-era WRC, each representing a different manufacturer. The last season in which four different teams won consecutive events was 1987. Neuville was patient while he fine-tuned his car’s set-up on Friday for the narrow and twisty mountain road speed tests on the Mediterranean island. He grabbed the initiative on Saturday when Citroen Wrt’s Kris Meeke retired from the lead with engine problems and eased through the final leg. “It’s an amazing feeling to take the win here in Corsica,” said an ecstatic Neuville at the end of the rally. “The team has been so supportive of me since those first two rallies, I am really happy to repay them with this result. This win is ours!”

Team mate Dani Sordo came home third to make its a double podium finish for Hyundai. The Spaniard started the day in the hunt for third but quickly found himself in a scrap for second after Sébastien Ogier hit trouble in the long 53.78km Antisanti – Poggio di Nazza stage. It came down to a thrilling fight in the Power Stage. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Sordo as he was pipped by just 1.3 seconds by Ogier. Still, there were plenty of reasons to cheer as they scored his first podium of the season, and two consolation points for finishing fourth in the Power Stage.

Ogier extended his championship lead to 13 points after passing Sordo in the final test. Electrical problems slowed the Frenchman’s Ford Fiesta in the previous special stage to allow the Spaniard ahead, but he overturned a 2.5sec deficit to prevail by 1.7sec. “It’s been a tough rally but a podium is better than nothing,” said a frustrated Ogier, whose victory chances ended on the second day with hydraulic problems. “We had no power and no handbrake on the last stage, lots of problems.”

Jari-Matti Latvala finished fourth for Toyota WRT as the Finn threw caution to the wind in the final test to relegate Citroen’s Craig Breen to fifth by just a tenth of a second. An extra for Latvala was that fastest time earned him maximum Power Stage bonus points. Breen was one of the few drivers to enjoy an error-free weekend in his Citroën C3 and the Irishman finished more than a minute ahead of the third Hyundai i20 of Hayden Paddon. Completing the top ten were Andreas Mikkelsen, T. Suninen and S. Sarrazin.

The championship returns to gravel for round five when Villa Carlos Paz hosts YPF Rally Argentina on 27 – 30 April.

2017 WRC Tour de Corse Corsica classifications

1 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) 3:22:53.4
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) +54.7
3 D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +56.0
4 J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:09.6
5 C. Breen / S. Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:09.7
6 H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) +2:16.3
7 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Škoda Fabia R5) +8:10.7
8 T. Suninen / M. Markkula (Ford Fiesta R5) +9:17.0
9 S. Sarrazin / J. J. Renucci (Škoda Fabia R5) +9:23.6
10 Y. Rossel / B. Fulcrand (Citroën DS3 R5) +12:57.1

Drivers standings
S. Ogier 88
2 J.M Latvala 75
3 T. Neuville 54
4 O. Tanak 48
5 D. Sordo 47
6 C. Breen 33
7 K. Meeke 27
8 H. Paddon 25
9 E. Evans 20
10 A. Mikkelsen 12
11 S. Lefebvre 10
12 J. Hänninen 9