Neuville leads from Ogier in Turkey

On Rally Turkey, WRC title rivals Thierry Neuville and Sebastien Ogier are just 0.3 seconds appart in their lead battle after a highly dramatic Friday afternoon. The pce from the top two coupled with chaos elsewhere in the field, particularly for Citroen, turned the running order inside out during the second loop.

Ogier leapt from seventh to second behind Andreas Mikkelsen with a win on the Cetibeli stage that began the afternoon, which was also where Citroen's rally fell apart. Craig Breen had been leading for part of the morning with team-mate Mads Ostberg in third, but both picked up tyre damage on SS6. They fell from second and third to eighth and fifth respectively, before Ostberg went out of the leg completely when his front suspension broke on the following Ula stage, where Breen sustained another puncture.
Neuville had been surprised to be one of those leapfrogged by Ogier on the first stage, and suggested the M-Sport Ford driver must be taking a lot of risks in the very rough conditions.

Neuville then raised his pace on the following Ula stage and won it for the second time in the day, which took him back past Ogier and to within 1.9s of rally-leading Hyundai team-mate Mikkelsen, who had been carrying a puncture on that stage. Short of good tyres for the concluding run of Cicekli, Mikkelsen fell to third as Neuville and Ogier hit the front. The top three will therefore start Saturday covered by just 2.6s.

Fellow title contender Ott Tanak felt Toyota simply lacked grip and pace on the Turkish roads, but managed to go fastest on Cicekli and is now fifth behind team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala. Tanak still has Hayden Paddon and the third Toyota of Esapekka Lappi right on his tail. The disconsolate Breen remains eighth ahead of Teemu Suninen, who started the afternoon with a surprise second-fastest time before reverting to being off the pace.

Suninen's M-Sport team-mate Elfyn Evans went out with suspension damage on the Ula run while already outside the top 10 following an error and differential trouble in the morning.

14th September, 2018