Thierry Neuville jumped from fifth to second in the FIA World Championship standings on Sunday afternoon, following a much-anticipated victory in Rally Italia Sardegna. Belgian star Neuville drove his i20 N teammate Esapekka Lappi by 33.0 seconds to a dream finish for Hyundai 1-2 on the sixth of 13 laps. Neuville scored his 18th career win with navigator Martijn Wydaeghe at his side .
Rally Italia Sardegna 2023 stage with Thierry Neuville a convincing winner.
The result marked the first win of 2023 for Neuville and his team, bringing the Korean mark within 23 points of championship-leading manufacturer Toyota Gazoo Racing. The lead changed hands no less than nine times during the fast and furious contest on the Mediterranean island. Until Neuville grabbed the deal when GR Yaris rival Sbastien Ogier went off the road in a special qualifying stage on Saturday. He overtook Lappi on the same stage, who celebrated his third consecutive finish on the same stage. Neuville extended his comfortable lead into Sunday’s four-stage final.
Convincing winners T Neuville / M Wydaeghe (BEL) Hyundai i20 N
“Obviously it was a challenging weekend,” said Neuville, who is now 25 points behind championship leader Kalle Rovanper. We came here with the belief that we can fight for victory. But the first day was already a challenge and we lost time. Yesterday we were leading and we had to continue like this until the end. It is the first victory for the team this year, it is 1-2, and also the first victory for our team boss. [Cyril Abiteboul]. Craig Breen is also in our memories – we really wanted Croatia to win for him, but we have him now.”
E Lappi / J Ferm FIN in their Hyundai i20 N gave Hyundai its first and double win in 2023
Rovanper completed the podium in third overall, his best result of his five Rally Italia Sardegna entries. Although he was 1min 22.3sec behind compatriot Lappi at the end, a superb performance left him with a vital 3min 25.2sec lead over fourth-placed Toyota teammate Elfin Evans. Evans struggled to get into a rhythm in his GR Yaris and fell three minutes behind on Saturday when the car’s radiator broke on the ferry.
K Rovanper / J Halttunen (FIN) Toyota GR Yaris
Dani Sordo almost got three Hyundais into the top five, but retired after the second race of the day due to bad smoke. It brought an early end to what had been a turbulent weekend for the Spaniard, after he rolled over in his i20 N early on Friday morning.
An unexpected fifth overall and WRC2 win for A Mikkelsen / T Eriksen (NOR) in their Fabia RS Rally2 koda
His retirement paved the way for Andreas Mikkelsen to finish fifth overall and take a surprise win in WRC2. Koda driver Fabia was more than half a minute behind Adrien Fourmaux for the final Wolf Power Stage, but the Frenchman slid 1.4km off the road in the final. One is dead, the other is bread.
The WRC season enters its second half with the highly anticipated tour of Africa later this month. a story Safari Rally Kenya will take place from Naivasha and will take place from 22 – 25 June.
No luck in the 2023 Rally Italia Sardegna for Puma driver Ott Tanak
Final results Sunday Rally Italia Sardegna 2023:
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 3h 40m 1.4s
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +33.0s
3. K Rovanper / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 55.3s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +5m 20.5s
5. A Mikkelsen / T Eriksen NOR koda Fabia RS Rally2 +9m 33.3s
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N Rally2 +11m 48.9s
Drivers’ Championship Standings (after 6 of 13 rounds):
1. K Rovanper 118pts
2. T Neuville 93pts
3. S Ogier 85 pts
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