Sun 21 Apr 2024

Neuville and Evans' heartbreak hands Croatia lead to Ogier in SS18

Sébastien Ogier has taken the Croatia Rally lead in dramatic circumstances on Sunday morning after Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans both went off the road in SS18.

Having battled since the opening stage on Friday, Neuville led Evans by just 2.6sec heading into Sunday’s second stage at Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec. In extraordinary circumstances, both drivers suffered time-consuming excursions in the test, handing the lead to Ogier with two stages to go.

Evans spun his Toyota GR Yaris on a tightening right-hander and lost around 20sec as he tried to get back underway. Neuville, meanwhile, ran wide on a left corner and hit a tree with the rear of his Hyundai i20 N. The Belgian was able to continue despite sustaining heavy damage but slipped to third after losing 23.3sec.

Ogier, who had been 11.6sec adrift of the lead coming into this final day, now holds a 9.1sec buffer over team-mate Evans with two stages remaining.

Recalling his off, Neuville said: “There were a lot of corners, and when I got the pace note, it was far too late. It’s a shame because everything was going so well.”

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