Team Hyundai’s Thierry Neauville has taken the lead of the World Rally Championship Rally of Spain after a dramatic day on the tarmac.
After Friday’s gravel stages, the action turned to tarmac, which clearly suited the British driver Kris Meeke who powered past Spaniard Dani Sordo into third place, gaining time on the leading pair.
However his day would be cut short after he smashed his Toyota Yaris WRC into the Armco barrier, ripping the right rear wheel clean off.
The accident promoted his team mate, Estonian Ott Tanak to fourth and edged him closer to clinching his maiden WRC championship victory for the Gazoo Racing Team.
Hyundai rally legend Sebastien Loeb held a 1.7-second lead heading into Saturday but his lead quickly unravelled as he couldn’t match the pace of team mate Neuville.
He drove an inspired Savalla and Querol stage to take the lead overall by 11.4 seconds. Loeb was able to cling onto second place from Sordo as the driver from Torrelavega drifted back from the front two.
A fluctuating battle brewed for fifth place between Jari-Matti Latvala and Ford’s Elfyn Evans with M-Sport team mate Teemu Suninen a distant seventh.
Takamoto Katsuta had been lying ninth in a fourth Toyota Yaris WRC, but the WRC2 regular had a morning to forget, missing his start time on Savalla by half an hour with a gearbox related issue.
Taking advantage of his rivals’ misfortunes, defending world champion, Sebastien Ogier rose to a surprising eighth following technical issues on Friday.
Mads Ostberg and Eric Camilli complete the top 10 in their Citroen C3 R5s.
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