In the second part of our review of Rally Italia Sardegna, we look at the biggest surprise of the weekend, and reveal which driver had an event to forget.
Stage of the rally
This rally delivered a nail-biter of a finish, so the Power Stage wins this accolade hands down.
Going into the rally-ending test, Sébastien Ogier held a slender 0.8sec lead over Thierry Neuville.
Hyundai driver Neuville knew the only way he could take victory was to put in the drive of his life. Pushing his i20 to the limit, the Belgian posted the fastest time so far.
All eyes turned to Ogier. Could he better his rival? Starting last, the defending world champion ran out of the ruts in a left-right corner, losing valuable time. That cost him the rally. Neuville was the victor by 0.7sec.
Surprise of the rally
Damaging a suspension wishbone and wrestling driveshaft issues on his Fabia R5, WRC 2 driver Ole Christian Veiby finished Friday’s leg in eighth place. It looked unlikely he would leave Italy with a good result.
Cue a remarkable fightback. Six wins from seven stages on Saturday fired the Norwegian up to third. He topped off his recovery on Sunday with another three stage victories to secure the runner-up spot – and a Skoda Motorsport one-two.
One to forget
Second place at Vodafone Rally de Portugal boosted Elfyn Evans’s confidence after a difficult start to 2018. Unfortunately, that promising form did not extend to Sardinia.
The M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver left feeling low after an early accident robbed him of the chance of consecutive strong results.
It all went wrong on Friday morning. On the first run of Tula, he clipped a bank and broke a steering arm. The Welshman replaced it at the side of the road, but the 13-minute delay plunged him down the order.
Save of the rally
Not one particular incident for us, but a whole stage performance brilliantly on the ragged edge.
Neuville said he would give his all in the Power Stage. And he was true to his word.
Running on the limit in his bid to overhaul Ogier, the Belgian was close to overstepping the mark on numerous occasions, but supreme car control - and sheer bravery - enabled him to reach the finish and claim his third win of 2018. Bellissimo!