Neuville's Greek Win for Hyundai!

The Belgian driver seized the top spot early on Saturday after nine-time world champion Sébastien Loeb retired with alternator failure and never looked back. Neuville's Hyundai squad emerged from the penultimate day unscathed while several frontrunners hit trouble. He carried an advantage of almost half a minute over team-mate Ott Tänak into Sunday's three-stage finale with Dani Sordo locking out the podium in third.

Tänak won back 2.9sec on the first pass through Elefthori, but any hopes of the Estonian putting more pressure on his colleague were quashed as team orders prevailed. Fourth-placed Elfyn Evans - driving a Toyota GR Yaris - was sidelined by turbo problems on the road section before the opener, leaving the Hyundai trio more than three minutes clear of the field.

Under instructions to bring the cars home at all costs, all three Hyundai drivers clicked into safety mode. Their positions remained unchanged and Neuville took the spoils by 15.0sec, marking his first victory of the WRC's hybrid era as well as a maiden podium lockout for the Korean manufacturer squad. Neuville recalled: "It has been a tough season so far and to get the victory after a very difficult weekend in Belgium is a relief. The most important thing is that we have a 1-2-3 for the team. After all these years we finally got it and it's a historical moment for the brand and the team. Everybody has worked hard for this and it's a nice reward."

Tänak's score moves him within 53 points of championship leader Kalle Rovanperä, who finished more than 17 minutes off the pace after the 21-year-old Finn hit a tree on Saturday and lost time nursing his Yaris car to the finish. He did, however, salvage four useful points from the Wolf Power Stage and could seal the crown at the next round should he outscore Tänak by eight points.

Pierre-Louis Loubet fought back to equal his career-best result by finishing fourth overall aboard an M-Sport Ford Puma. After briefly leading and taking two stage wins on Friday, he tumbled down the order with a front left puncture Saturday, eventually ending 1min 52.5sec behind Sordo. Hyundai team-mate Craig Breen had similar issues Friday but, aided by problems for those ahead, climbed to sixth overall. Breen trailed Loubet by 26.8sec with Takamoto Katsuta 6min 21.1sec behind.

The brutal rate of attrition resembled a Greek Tragedy and meant that support category cars filled the rest of the leaderboard. WRC2 winner Emil Lindholm was an impressive seventh overall with his Skoda Fabia and headed Nikolay Gryazin, Yohan Rossel and Eyvind Brynildsen.

Later this month the WRC heads down under as Repco Rally New Zealand hosts round 11 of 13. The gravel fixture returns to the calendar for the first time since 2012, from 29 September - 2 October.

11th September, 2022