Tanak Leads in Chile

Ott Tanak edged ahead of reigning World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier on the Saturday morning loop of Rally Chile, while Thierry Neuville rolled out of the podium battle. Tanak had won only one stage from three on Saturday morning, the loop-ending Pelun test, he gained more than 10 seconds over Ogier in all, extending his lead to 34.6s.

Ogier was initially being closed down by current points leader Neuville, who had top the times on the opening Rio Lia test and gained 5.7s on the Citroen driver. But the Belgians rally came to an abrupt halt on SS8, when he ran wide over a crest, hit a bank and rolled his Hyundai i20 several times, badly damaging his car and forcing him to retire.

That promoted Jari-Matti Latvala back to the final podium position, just 16.4s clear of Latvala, who was slowed on SS7 by Toyota teammate Kris Meeke, when the Northern Irishman cruised through the stage after rolling his Yaris, losing 20.1s in all on Rio Lia, but suggested some of the deficit would be recovered with an adjusted notional time, though for now his stage time remains the same.

Following Neuvilles retirement, Sebastien Loeb has closed up to only 1.1s behind Latvala in fifth place, gaining time on Latvala during all three runs on Saturday morning, including a stage win on Maria Las Cruces.

Elfyn Evans is over 90s up on his M-Sport teammate Teemu Suninen, who occupy fifth and sixth places respectively and Esapekka Lappi (Citroen) moved up to seventh at the expense of Andreas Mikkelsen (Hyundai) on Maria Las Cruces, after Mikkelsen had already been demoted a place by Suninen one stage earlier. The Norwegian driver was the slowest driver bar gentleman driver Lorenzo Bertelli for most of the morning and is already 22.8s behind Lappi.

Despite losing several minutes with his roll, Meeke is currently in ninth place, having completed the last two stages of the Saturday morning loop at full speed and without a front windscreen. Meeke however is expected to be demoted out of the top 10 after notional times are handed out for Maria Las Cruces, who was red-flagged for Neuvilles accident.

Kalle Rovanpera had looked set to concede the lead in WRC2 to Mads Ostberg on Rio Lia. But late on the mornings first test, brake fluid started to leak from the Citroen drivers rear brakes, which cost Ostberg over half a minute.

11th May, 2019

Neuville Wins in Corsica

Thierry Neuville took a dramatic WRC win for Hyundai on the Tour of Corsica as Elfyn Evans' M-Sport Fiesta suffered a puncture on the final stage after leading Neuville by 11.5 seconds heading into the Power Stage. This followed a stunning time earlier in the morning which allowed him to retake the lead he lost on Saturday. However, Evans picked up a front-right puncture on the final stage and dropped over a minute, plummeting to third overall.

Events then gifted Neuville his first win of the season and with it the championship lead, two points ahead of Sebastien Ogier who didn't win a single stage all weekend but came home a surprise second overall for Citroen. The Frenchman had never been particularly happy with the feeling of his C3 despite trying several different suspension set-ups, but kept out of trouble and snuck his way up the leaderboard to score second.

Evans had hit the front as early as stage one, leading Toyota's Ott Tanak after Friday's action. Tanak fought back on Saturday, edging into the lead by lunchtime before his challenge unravelled on SS11 when he picked up a puncture and lost two minutes meaning the Toyota driver eventually finished sixth, dropping him first to third in the championship.

Dani Sordo was fourth for Hyundai, having taken a sole stage win on the mammoth 30-mile Castagniccia test. He had been running ahead of Ogier for much of the rally only for his brakes to fade on Sunday morning. Teemu Suninen did exactly what was asked of him by his M-Sport Ford team and finished the rally without incident, ending up fifth overall.

Citroen's Esapekka Lappi was frustrated all weekend as he struggled to get on top of an ill-handling C3 WRC. However, the Finn made no mistakes and bagged seventh place for his efforts. Nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb's rally was almost over before it begun, as he slid wide into a kerb on the opening stage. The Hyundai driver lost two minutes as he limped through the test with a broken rear steering arm. Loeb recovered to eighth, surviving a spin on Saturday morning when he understeered into a ditch.

Kris Meeke's pace promised a much stronger finish than ninth, but he was another to lose time as early as stage one. The Briton cut a corner and immediately wrecked the front-left tyre on his Toyota, and then made the same mistake against a kerb but saved his tyres on Sunday morning to allow him a scorching run on the Power Stage to earn him five extra championship points. Jari-Matti Latvala had a disappointing weekend, with two punctures on Friday and Saturday harming his cause. The Toyota driver ended up 10th, over a minute-and-a-half behind teammate Meeke.

Final results:
Pos Driver/Co-driver Car Time/Gap
1. Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe 3:22'59.0
2. Sťbastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia CitroŽn C3 40.3
3. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin Ford Fiesta 1'06.6
4 . Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio Hyundai i20 Coupe 1'18.4
5. Teemu Suninen/Marko Salminen Ford Fiesta 1'24.6
6. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja Toyota Yaris 1'40.0
7. Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm CitroŽn C3 2'09.1
8. Sťbastien Loeb/Daniel Elena Hyundai i20 Coupe 3'39.2
9. Kris Meeke/Sebastian Marshall Toyota Yaris 5'06.3
10. Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila Toyota Yaris 6'44.6

Drivers Championship Positions
1. Thierry Neuville 82
2. Sebastien Ogier 80
3. Ott Tanak 77
4. Elfyn Evans 43
5. Kris Meeke 42
6. Esapekka Lappi 26
7. Sebastien Loeb 22
8. Dani Sordo 16
9. Jari-Matti Latvala 15
10. Teemu Suninen 14

Manufacturer Championship
1. Hyundai Shell Mobis 114
2. Citroen Total 112
3. Toyota Gazoo 98
4. M-Sport Ford 70

31st March, 2019

Neuville Leads as Tanak Punctures in Corsica

Thierry Neuville takes a lead of 4.5 seconds over Elfyn Evans into Sunday of the Tour of Corsica. Ott Tanak had led the rally heading into the afternoon ahead of Evans, with Neuville 17.2s behind. Evans started the afternoon with intent, trimming World Rally Championship points leader Tanaks 2.3s advantage down to 1.6s on the first stage of the loop, Cap Corse. The pairs epic battle was cut short however when Tanaks Toyota stopped in the middle of SS11 with a punctured tyre and the Estonian lost over two minutes to stage winner Neuville and plummeted from first to seventh - recovering to sixth place by the end of the day.

Neuville had begun to drift away slightly from Tanak and Evans ahead of him throughout Saturday, but smelled blood when Tanak hit trouble and put in a sublime performance to beat Evans by 16 seconds on the final stage, turning a 11.5s deficit into a 4.5s to set up a dramatic finish on Sunday. World champion Ogier momentarily lost the anti-lag in his C3 on the final stage of the day which caused him significant distraction, but the Frenchman still manged to pass Dani Sordo to end the day third after starting it in sixth. Sordo dropped 19.5s to Ogier in the 30 miles of Castagniccia to trail by 5.1s overall, lamenting his speed in the second pass of the stage he won in the morning.

Teemu Suninen was rejuvenated in the afternoon after dropping from fifth to sixth in the morning, the M-Sport driver struggled to make any ground on Ogier and Sordo ahead of him but crucially kept his car on the road. He is now fifth after Tanaks problems. Esapekka Lappi continues to work on optimising the set-up of his Citroen in seventh. Sebastien Loeb, in eighth place, was unhappy with changes he had made to his Hyundai at midday service, complaining of understeer. Kris Meeke enjoyed his afternoon as he continues to hold ninth overall in his Toyota, avoiding any drama in stark contrast to his Friday.

Jari-Matti Latvala picked up his second puncture of the weekend on the penultimate stage of the day, almost understeering into the undergrowth before stopping to change it. The Finn admitted it was his mistake as he was trying to push but cut a corner and destroyed his tyre. Despite this setback, Latvala is still 10th.

The final stage of the day was red-flagged after Eric Camillis Volkswagen Polo R5 caught on fire. Camilli had lost his WRC2 lead in the morning but was hunting down Fabio Andolfi for the class lead.

30th March, 2019

Tanak takes control in Corsica

After day one of Rally France - Tour of Corsica, Ott Tanak has established an early lead, but only 1.3 seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans. Not particularly happy with his driving on the opening stage, Tanak responded by taking the lead on stage two courtesy of a second fastest time through the test before taking his first stage win of the rally to conclude the morning at the head of the pack in his Toyota.

M-Sport driver Evans was the quickest man on the opening stage by almost three seconds but dropped behind Tanak's Toyota on stage two and then lost a further 0.7s on stage three but heads to the midday tyre-fitting zone in a confident mood, admitting he wasn't surprised with his pace.

Thierry Neuville was frustrated with the handling of his Hyundai i20, but lies third overall after a consistent morning, just 3.5s behind the rally leader. Neuville was embroiled in a close battle with teammate Dani Sordo for the final podium place, holding a 4.1s advantage over the Spaniard, who is fourth.

Teemu Suninen is fifth overall for M-Sport ahead of compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala, who was frustrated with his pace notes that were "too slow" for the Corsican stages. The two Citroen drivers were expected to be the pace-setters in Corsica, but both Rally Mexico winner Sebastien Ogier and teammate Esapekka Lappi suffered spins throughout the morning.

Lappi was fifth heading into stage three but has fallen to seventh, spinning his C3 on the exit of a hairpin half-way through the third test. Ogier made a similar mistake on the morning's opening stage. The defending champion struggled for pace thereafter, not happy with the set-up in his Citroen C3, and finds himself 24s behind the rally leader and one second behind his teammate in eighth.

Kris Meeke was fastest on stage two and just 0.5s shy of teammate Tanak on stage three, but is down in ninth after a puncture on the opening stage. Meeke had made an error on the recce and had a "keep in" instruction in his pace notes, but the fast left-hander bit back and punctured the front-left tyre of his Yaris.

The returning Sebastien Loeb was another to suffer drama on stage one, dropping just under two minutes after breaking a steering arm on his Hyundai i20 and then sliding wide on a left hander, damaging the right-rear corner and forcing him to carrying out urgent repairs immediately after the stage. As a result, the nine-time champion dropped to 49th place but has since recovered to 14th.

30th March, 2019

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