Belgium WRC: Neuville closes on win, puncture halts Ogier

Thierry Neuville further extended his Rally Ypres lead to edge closer to a home World Rally Championship win, while a puncture dented title rival Sebastien Ogier’s charge for a podium.  

Listen to this article

The local hero produced a faultless drive on the first run through Sunday’s stages, based around Belgian Formula 1 Grand Prix venue Spa-Francorchamps.

Neuville managed to increase his 10.1s overnight advantage to 14.9s, helped by a mistake for nearest rival and teammate Craig Breen, who clipped a bank on the day’s first stage.

Only 4.3s covered Toyota trio Elfyn Evans, Kalle Rovanpera and championship leader Ogier in the battle for third before the start of action.

However, a win on the day’s first stage and a strong run on the second stage for Rovanpera saw him take third overall, opening up a 3.9s gap over Evans. But Ogier’s podium hopes were dented by a puncture on the first stage that has left him 14.1s adrift of third.

Hyundai’s Ott Tanak claimed victory on Stage 18 but remains in sixth overall. 

Crews completed a three-hour drive from Ypres to Spa-Francorchamps this morning for the final four stages of the rally.

The first stage of the morning saw the field tackle narrow tarmac country roads before entering the Belgian Grand Prix venue at Les Combes with the stage finish at Stavelot corner.

Rovanpera emerged fastest, boosting his hopes of snatching third overall from teammate Evans as the Finn closed the gap to 1.7s.

Ogier’s hopes of stealing the podium from the pair of them was severely dented when he ran wide over a rocky exit of a corner that triggered a left rear puncture. The Frenchman ended the stage 8.2s off the pace, dropping him 10.9s behind third-placed Evans in overall standings. 

Tanak was second-fastest while leader Neuville enjoyed a trouble free run to third on the stage.

However, there was drama for the second-placed teammate Breen as he dropped six seconds to Neuville after clipping a bank during the stage, but luckily the Irishman avoided any significant damage.

The second stage of the morning featured a run through the village of Ster before finishing at the Spa with a pass through the circuit’s pit lane and Eau Rouge section, before finishing on the Rallycross circuit.    

After a 20 minute delay to ensure spectator safety, it was Tanak who starred to claim his second stage win of the event, pipping Rovanpera by 0.5s.

"To drive in this place would be on the bucket list, but I would say in something with 500 more horsepower would be a bit better,” said Tanak.

Breen clawed back some of the time he lost on the opening stage to Neuville to finish the stage third ahead of the rally leader.

However, Evans lost third overall to Rovanpera after a slow run to sixth fastest on the test.

“I was just too wild in the previous one and tried to tidy it up, but obviously not pushing hard enough now. We'll keep going,” said Evans.

In WRC2, Jari Huttunen has taken over the lead in the class after overnight leader Oliver Solberg was forced to retire when his Hyundai failed to start at service park this morning.

The Spa-Francorchamps stages will be repeated later this morning to conclude Rally Ypres.

shares
comments

Related video

WRC Belgium leader Neuville conscious “nothing is done yet”
Previous article

WRC Belgium leader Neuville conscious “nothing is done yet”

Next article

Belgium WRC: Neuville ends Hyundai's win drought in Ypres

Belgium WRC: Neuville ends Hyundai's win drought in Ypres
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Prime

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier.

WRC
10 h
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Prime

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Prime

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Prime

Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers is no less demanding. We got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Prime

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Prime

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Prime

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Prime

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Motorsport.com was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success.

WRC
Aug 19, 2022