Italy WRC: Neuville beats Ogier in thrilling duel by 0.7s

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville passed World Rally Championship title rival Sebastien Ogier in the Power Stage to win Rally Italy by seven tenths. The duo were closely matched for the majority of Rally Italy, with M-Sport Ford’s Ogier taking the lead in Friday afternoon’s SS7.
Thierry Neuville NicolasGilsoul Hyundai Motorsport

He led throughout Saturday but was under massive pressure from Neuville, with the gap between them remaining under 10 seconds during the afternoon.

They were separated by 3.9s before Sunday’s four stages, and Neuville continued to apply the pressure.

The Belgian topped the first three stages, the two runs on the 14.06km Cala Flumini as well as the first test on the Sassari-Argentiera stages.

However, Ogier managed to run a close second on all three occasions and had preserved eight tenths of his lead before the Power Stage.

Yet he was unable to hold off Neuville there, as the Belgian was again fastest, with Ogier 1.5s adrift and consequently only second overall.

With Neuville scoring the maximum amount of 30 points, he outscored Ogier by eight points and has a 27-point gap in the standings.

Esapekka Lappi inherited third place after fellow Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala suffered an alternator problem at the end of Saturday, and cruised to the finish to grab his first podium of 2018.

Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon only had a two-second gap over Citroen’s Mads Ostberg in fourth as Sunday’s stages started, but the New Zealander beat the Norwegian in all four stages and extended his advantage to 15.7s.

The other Citroen of Craig Breen was sixth as Latvala, who dropped to eighth due to a 10-minute penalty, gained one position back to salvage seventh.

His teammate Ott Tanak wound up eighth, followed by Czech ace Jan Kopecky, winner of the WRC2 class.

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