The Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville snatched victory from the hands Alfina Evans on the final special stage of Rally Argentina, ahead of the Welshman just 0.7 seconds.
Evans took the lead on the first day, winning six out of the nine special stages, and at some point brought their lead almost to the minute. However, in the course of Saturday he has lost much of this time due to two punctures, damage of the membrane and problems with the brakes, and began the final day with a lead of 11 seconds off Neuville.
On the first SU Sunday racer DMACK lost another 2.5 seconds relative to its main competitor, but on the penultimate stage, and Neuville is dealt a crushing blow, time after 8.4 seconds.
Thus, in the final, 18th DOP, the two leaders went with a gap of 0.6 seconds in favor of Evans. The first split of Elfin drove even 2.5 seconds faster than the Belgian, but in the course of the following segments slower and at the finish lost 1.3 seconds, which meant defeat.
“I am very upset that lost the advantage. Hard to accept, but I know that we will become even stronger – said Evans after the final SU. – I made a small mistake in the middle of the stage, which probably played a crucial role. It’s a shame, considering what great leadership we had on Friday. I need to learn from this lesson.”
Neuville for the victory in Argentina was the second in a row after success in the Rally of Corsica.
“It was the worst thing I’ve seen in my life – told Neville about his feelings when he completed the final DOP and watched Evans, who was last in the start list. – For the first stint he was faster, but on the second we took the initiative”.
Finished third rider M-Sport, Ott Tanak, while teammate Estonian Sebastien Ogier for the first time in the season-2017 has been outside the first three. A few bugs, dirty track on Friday and mechanical problems on Saturday threw four-time world champion at the end of the top-5. In the result, Ogier was only the fourth.
“Honestly, I am very happy that this rally is finally over,’ said the championship leader. – It was a difficult weekend, but we still were able to score points, which can not but rejoice”.
Former partner at Ogier Volkwagen, and now a Toyota driver Jari-Matti Latvala finished in fifth place, although problems with the engine overheating on Friday was the main rival of Evans.
Last year’s winner of Rally Argentina Hayden Paddon after their problems – the coup in the morning of Friday, failure of the rear drive at the final stages and issues with the steering – took sixth place, although he lost to teammate Hyundai Neville seven minutes.
The second racer Toyota Juho Hanninen took seventh place, and rounded out the top ten Dani Sordo, Mads Ostberg and the winner in the category WRC2 Pontus of Tidemand.
In the championship after the first five of the rally Ogier leads with 102 points, Latvala second with 86 points, Neuville – 84. The best representatives of Citroen Craig Breen is seventh with 33 points, and Kris Meeke, who was considered one of the top favorites before the season, only the ninth place with 27 points.
The next stage will be held in Portugal from 18 to 21 may.
|1.||Thierry Neuville||Hyundai Motorsport||3:38.10,6|
|2.||Elfyn Evans||M-Sport World Rally Team||+0,7|
|3.||Ott Tanak||M-Sport World Rally Team||+29,9|
|4.||Sebastien Ogier||M-Sport World Rally Team||+1.24,7|
|5.||Jari-Matti Latvala||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||+1.48,1|
|6.||Hayden Paddon||Hyundai Motorsport||+7.42,7|
|7.||Juho Hänninen||Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC||+11.16,9|
|8.||Dani Sordo||Hyundai Motorsport||+14.44,1|
|9.||Mads Ostberg||M-Sport World Rally Team||+15.11,3|
|10.||Pontus Of Tidemand||Skoda Motorsport||+17.32,1|
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