Sweden WRC: Neuville leads into final day, top-six battles tighten

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Sweden WRC: Neuville leads into final day, top-six battles tighten
By: Jack Cozens
Feb 17, 2018, 7:21 PM

Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville will carry a 22.7-second lead over Craig Breen into the final day of Rally Sweden after safely negotiating Saturday's evening stages.

Craig Breen, Scott Martin, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing
Hayden Paddon, Hyundai Motorsport
Sébastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport Ford
Teemu Suninen, Mikko Markkula, Ford Fiesta WRC, M-Sport

Neuville extended his lead on Saturday afternoon's loop, and bolstered that by another 3.9s on the evening's Karlstad superspecial and Torsby sprint stages.

That included another win on the evening's final stage, and Neuville has barely more than 32 miles standing between him and victory on the second round of the WRC season.

Breen now has Andreas Mikkelsen pressuring him for second, with 9.3s in hand over the Hyundai driver ahead of Sunday's final two stages.

Hayden Paddon had offered Mikkelsen competition for third in his own i20, but the returning New Zealander was outside the top 10 on the Torsby stage and is left defending fourth place, just 8.2s ahead of the second Citroen of Mads Ostberg.

Ostberg, who reported in the afternoon that he was happier with the behaviour of his Citroen C3 after reverting to his original set-up, was fourth on the Torsby sprint and is nine seconds in front of the leading Toyota of Esapekka Lappi in sixth.

Jari-Matti Latvala remains seventh in his Toyota chased by the leading M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Teemu Suninen, while Ott Tanak is ninth.

The Estonian backed up his fastest time from Thursday evening's opening Karlstad stage with the best time on the repeat run on Saturday, but is more than a minute behind the next car on the leaderboard after he was caught up behind Kris Meeke - who had an engine problem and has retired - in the afternoon.

Sebastien Ogier inherited a place in the points when Meeke retired, but is a lonely 10th - 43.6s behind Tanak and 28.8s ahead of the third M-Sport Ford Fiesta of Elfyn Evans in the battle for the final regular point.

 

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