Suspension failure ends Neuville’s victory hopes

Neuville held a 10.9s lead over Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier heading into stage 10, the second pass through Pavliani stage, but came to a halt 11 kilometres into the 24.25km rough gravel test.

Neuville’s i20 N Rally1 car suffered a bent front right wheel and damaged the suspension following an unfortunate impact with a hole in the road.

The car came to a halt at the roadside, where the damage proved too severe for Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe to repair, leaving them stranded on the stage.

«Huge disappointment for Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe on SS10 — damaging their front right suspension after hitting a hole. The duo retire for the day,» read a statement from the Hyundai team.

The retirement will have ramifications for Neuville’s championship hopes, having started Greece 36 points adrift of championship leader Kalle Rovanpera.

Neuville’s demise handed the rally lead to eight-time champion Ogier, competing a partial schedule this year, who managed to complete the stage with the second-fastest time behind pacesetter Rovanpera.

Rovanpera edged Ogier by 0.2s to reduce the gap to the new rally leader to 12.6s.

«That’s always a shame. We had a good fight and it was fun to fight with him [Neuville],» said Ogier upon hearing the news of Neuville’s retirement. «That’s the way it is, it is rough out there.»

Sébastien Ogier, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Sébastien Ogier, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Photo by: Toyota Racing

Rovanpera added: «The main thing is that they are okay but that’s a big surprise. It was definitely not an easy stage.»

Hyundai’s Dani Sordo has inherited third position (+1m48.2s), with the Spaniard 1.6s ahead of Toyota’s Elfyn Evans.

The Welshman dropped a minute with a suspected overheating issue on his GR Yaris in the final stage of the morning loop, but Toyota successfully rectified the issue during the midday service to allow Evans to post the third fastest time on stage 10.

«It was a difficult stage, our run was fine,» said Evans. «I felt like it should have been better, but it wasn’t through the lack of trying.»

Two more stages await the crews this afternoon.


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