WRC: Neuville uses road position and guile of old to take win


Thierry Neuville emerged from a career slump to claim his second WRC victory at Rally Italia Sardegna on Sunday afternoon.

After a difficult end to 2015 and an equally troubled start to this season, all came good for the Belgian on the Mediterranean island as he won the four-day rough road event by 24.8sec in his Hyundai i20.

He became the fifth different winner in the last five FIA World Rally Championship rounds, adding to his maiden victory in Germany in 2014.


Neuville won nine of the 19 speed tests, moving to the front on Friday afternoon and repelling a determined challenge from Jari-Matti Latvala. The Finn closed to within three seconds on Saturday before Neuville pulled clear and eased through today’s final leg.

“My second time and there is much less pressure leading the rally,” he said. “We had a great weekend and great things come to those who go and earn it. The feeling was good in the car, hopefully it’ll be like this for the rest of the season. It wasn’t easy but we keep working and it’s good for the confidence.”
Latvala conceded defeat on Sunday morning

Despite an ill-handling Volkswagen Polo R, Latvala led three times on Friday as he exchanged blows with Neuville and Sébastien Ogier. A new gearbox rectified the handling issues but Latvala conceded defeat this morning when the gap rose towards 20sec.

Ogier extended his championship lead by finishing third in another Polo R. As road opener, he lost time sweeping the dry gravel and gambled with soft tyres on Friday and Saturday morning to achieve his target of a podium finish.

Dani Sordo claimed his fourth consecutive fourth place in an i20 to climb to second in the points standings. Ott Tänak and Eric Camilli, who claimed his maiden stage victory today, completed the top six in Ford Fiesta RS cars.


Henning Solberg overcame final day suspension problems to finish seventh ahead of WRC 2 winner Teemu Suninen, Jan Kopecky and Karl Kruuda.

Mads Østberg failed to restart today after his team diagnosed a damaged engine following a broken driveshaft yesterday. Other major retirements earlier in the rally included Hayden Paddon and Lorenzo Bertelli who both crashed.

Teemu Suninen enhanced his WRC 2 title credentials by claiming his second victory of the season at Rally Italia Sardegna on Sunday afternoon.

He climbed to third in the points after winning the four-day gravel event by 49.6sec from fellow Skoda Fabia R5 driver Jan Kopecky. Karl Kruuda completed the podium in a Ford Fiesta R5 on his return to the sport after almost a year’s absence.


Suninen led from the start until he punctured a tyre on Friday afternoon after hitting a rock and slipped to third. It handed the initiative to Umberto Scandola, but the Italian also punctured early on Saturday morning before retiring his Fabia R5 with a leaking water pipe.

The Finn regained top spot after Esapekka Lappi crashed and was never under pressure as he eased through today’s final leg to seal maximum points and finish eighth overall.

Kopecky dropped almost a minute with a front puncture in Friday’s tough conditions to plunge to eighth. However, the Czech staged a tremendous recovery to climb to second by Saturday evening, 2.2sec ahead of Peru’s Nicolas Fuchs.

The pressure was removed this morning when Fuchs rolled his Fabia R5 into retirement, losing his opportunity to take the championship lead from the absent Elfyn Evans.


Kruuda finished 4min 31.1sec behind Suninen and more than two minutes clear of Germany’s Armin Kremer. Julien Maurin and Pierre-Louis Loubet completed the top six in a Fiesta R5 and DS 3 respectively.