Alghero (Italy) (AFP) – Belgium’s Thierry Neuville threw caution to the wind as he won the last six stages of the Rally of Italy on Sunday to overturn a 6.8-second deficit and edge Frenchman Sebastian Ogier.
Neuville, driving a Hyundai, was still 0.7 seconds behind Ogier (M-Sport Ford) entering the closing 6.96km Powerstage but gained 1.4 seconds to finish the race 0.8 seconds ahead.
“I really gave it all this weekend,” said Neuville, who recorded an overall time of 3hr 29min and 18.7sec as he increased his lead at the top of the World Rally standings to 27 points over Ogier. Ott Tanak (Toyota) who finished eight remains third overall but is now 70 points back.
“We lost the battle, but clearly not the war: there are six rallies left,” Ogier said. “There are rallies in which Thierry will be at a disadvantage.”
The Frenchman’s second place could be in danger following a strange incident at the end of the penultimate stage when Ogier drove off without collecting his time card. It was delivered to him by former team-mate Tanak.
Finn Esapekka Lappi (Toyota) finished third in the rally, 1:56.3 slower than Neuville with New Zealander Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) third and Norwegian Mads Ostberg (Citroen) fourth.