Neuville, Ogier both hit trouble in Turkey

By: Matt Beer

WRC title protagonists Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier hit trouble as a drama-filled Rally Turkey continued on Saturday morning.Hyundai’s points leader Neuville suffered a suspension breakage while first on the road during the morning’s opening stage and despite his best efforts to fix the problem, he had to retire from the day.

That handed Ogier – who started the day just 0.3 seconds in arrears of his title rival – a huge 25-second lead.

But on the very next stage, Ogier’s M-Sport Ford suffered a broken front-right wishbone and lost time, although the drama happened close enough to the end of the stage that he only dropped 18s.

Neuville had risen into the rally lead by the end of Friday despite running first on the road, and was pulling away on the splits early on the Yesilbelde stage that opened leg two.

But then onboard camera footage showed the left-front suspension on his i20 breaking and beginning to shed components through the deranged bonnet.

Neuville was forced to a crawl with the car’s left front corner scraping along the ground. He had to complete around five miles of the stage with the problem and lost three and a half minutes, dropping him to 10th.

“Something has broken, we didn’t hit anything,” said Neuville at the stage end. “Unlucky. Really unlucky.”

He and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul attempted a makeshift repair on the road section after the stage, but were not able to get the car in a condition suitable for competitive stages in time so eventually had to head back to service and retire.

Neuville is likely to be able to rejoin under Rally2 for Sunday and although an overall top 10 finish will be out of the question once penalties for missing five stages are applied, he could still have a shot at scoring Power Stage bonus points.

His Hyundai teammate Andreas Mikkelsen is now Ogier’s closest challenger and is now within 7.5s of the Frenchman.

Outside title contender Ott Tanak (Toyota), who is 36 points behind Neuville in the championship, is now up to fourth place and just 6s behind teammate Jari-Matti Latvala ahead.

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