Neuville pulls clear in Rally Italy lead

Neuville pulls clear in Rally Italy lead
By AutoSport

11/06/2016 at 01:25

Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville leads Rally Italy at the end of day one after taking control of round six of the World Rally Championship season on Friday's afternoon loop.

Having led at the end of the morning's first four stages, Neuville was fastest on three of the four stages after service and carries an 11.1-second lead over Volkswagen's Jari-Matti Latvala into Saturday.

Latvala reclaimed the lead with the fastest time on SS6, the first of the afternoon, but he was repassed by Neuville a stage later, the Belgian going 4.4s faster than anyone else as team-mate Hayden Paddon crashed out towards the stage end.

Neuville then became the first driver to lead two consecutive stages of the rally by setting the fastest time on the second run of Castelsardo, SS8, and further extended his advantage as he went 3.4s faster than Latvala on SS9 to close out an impressive day in his Hyundai i20.

Triple world champion Sebastien Ogier is third. He limited his first-on-the-road loss on the afternoon's four stages to 17s, the Polo R driver having pulled clear of Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen while the Norwegian jumped compatriot Mads Ostberg for fourth on the final stage of the afternoon.

Dani Sordo ended the day a quiet sixth in the second Hyundai - but with Paddon and the fourth i20 of Kevin Abbring both in trouble, Sordo's was a sensible approach and left him within touching distance of the fight for fourth.

Henning Solberg holds seventh in his Ford Fiesta RS, just ahead of DMACK driver Ott Tanak who struggled with tyres throughout the day, picking up a puncture on the penultimate stage of the afternoon.

Just behind that squabble is a bigger one for WRC2 honours, with four cars embroiled in a fight for first.

Teemu Suninen initially led the way, but dropped half a minute on SS7 when he picked up a puncture.

That instead handed the lead to Umberto Scandola, making a one-off appearance in a Skoda Fabia R5, and the Italian holds the advantage into day two of the rally.

Esapekka Lappi is second in class - and 10th overall - just 3.3s back, with Suninen and Nicolas Fuchs also within striking distance.