Sweden WRC: Neuville takes points lead with win

Thierry Neuville completed the final three stages of Rally Sweden to secure his first victory of the 2018 WRC season, and take the championship lead.

Sweden WRC: Neuville takes points lead with win
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Thierry Neuville, Nicolas Gilsoul, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Craig Breen, Scott Martin, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Craig Breen, Scott Martin, Citroën C3 WRC, Citroën World Rally Team
Andreas Mikkelsen, Anders Jäger, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport
Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Toyota Yaris WRC, Toyota Gazoo Racing

In SS17, the first stage of the day, Neuville gave up eight seconds of the 22.7s lead he had started with as a result of careful driving, but was second-fastest on the rerun of the same route to enter the Power Stage with a 16.2s advantage.

He then completed the final test of the event without any trouble to take his first victory in Rally Sweden, and also claim the points lead.

Citroen driver Craig Breen took his best-ever WRC result in second, with Hyundai's Andreas Mikkelsen completing the podium.

Toyota's Esapekka Lappi claimed fourth place after impressing throughout the Sunday leg.

He was second behind teammate Ott Tanak in SS17 and then topped SS18, passing Citroen's Mads Ostberg and closing in on the Hyundai of Hayden Paddon.

Lappi then took advantage of Paddon crashing into a snow bank in the Power Stage, which the Finn topped and added further five to the 12 points he collected for finishing fourth.

Paddon and Ostberg settled for fifth and sixth respectively, followed by Finnish duo Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) and Teemu Suninen (M-Sport Ford).

Tanak and reigning champion Sebastien Ogier claimed the final two point-scoring positions.

The Frenchman had incurred a penalty for deciding to start the Power Stage - where he ultimately placed runner-up - late, but was promoted back to 10th after teammate Elfyn Evans picked up a late-arrival penalty of his own.

Toyota protege Takamoto Katsuta was 12th overall as he beat Pontus Tidemand by 4.5s to WRC2 glory.

Final results

Pos. Driver Car Time/Gap
1  Thierry Neuville Hyundai 2h52m13.1s
2  Craig Breen Citroen 19.8s
3  Andreas Mikkelsen Hyundai 28.3s 
4  Esapekka Lappi Toyota 45.8s 
5  Hayden Paddon Hyundai 54.4s 
6  Mads Ostberg Citroen 1m15.3s 
7  Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota 2m04.9s 
8  Teemu Suninen M-Sport Ford 2m52.2s 
9  Ott Tanak Toyota 3m44.4s 
10  Sebastien Ogier M-Sport Ford 8m45.4s

Championship standings

Pos. Driver Car Pts
1  Thierry Neuville Hyundai 41
2  Sebastien Ogier M-Sport Ford 31
3  Jari-Matti Latvala Toyota 23
4  Esapekka Lappi Toyota 23
5  Ott Tanak Toyota 21
6  Andreas Mikkelsen Hyundai 21
7  Craig Breen Citroen 20
8  Kris Meeke Citroen 17
9  Hayden Paddon Hyundai 10
10  Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford 8
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Sweden WRC: Neuville leads into final day, top-six battles tighten

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