WRC Croatia: Neuville leads Evans after Ogier wheel failure
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville has emerged with the lead at Rally Croatia on Friday morning after early leader Sebastien Ogier and world rally champion Kalle Rovanpera were forced to change a wheel.
The Belgian, driving one of two Hyundai’s carrying a special tribute livery to the late Craig Breen, ended the morning loop at the asphalt rally with a 16.1s lead over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans.
M-Sport’s Ott Tanak managed to reach service park in third, 22.1 seconds adrift despite struggling with his Ford Puma, while the sister Hyundai of Esapekka Lappi was fourth, 34.9s in arrears. Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta and M-Sport’s Pierre-Louis Loubet completed the top six.
After changing a wheel on stage 2, Ogier won three of the four stages but ended the loop seventh overall, 1m27.1s behind.
Rovanpera found himself outside of the points after his delay, which was compounded by struggles coping with the dirty road conditions.
The rally began under clear skies with Ogier making the most of the cleanest of the road conditions, starting first in the order.
The eight-time world champion and championship leader delivered a stunning time despite the low grip caused by mud that had been brought onto the surface from rain in the lead up to the event.
Ogier was 2.6s faster than Neuville, second on the road, although the Belgian was struggling with the handling of his i20 N, admitting at stage end that he ”was fighting the car" and had a “big job” to do to reach the finish.
The road conditions became increasingly worse after every pass with the next fastest being Tanak, who was 10.5s slower, although some of the time loss was down to a stall at a tight hairpin left.
Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
"I was losing the boost and then I stalled,” said Tanak. "After that I really struggled with many things. We got some steering issue already on the road section.”
Rovanpera was 0.8s slower than the Estonian as he struggled to extract speed from his GR Yaris.
The Finn’s rally hopes would take a more decisive blow on the next stage as he and Ogier suffered a tyre deflation, which appeared to be caused by the same pot hole 12km into the 25km test.
Ogier lost the rally lead as he dropped 1m32s in the test, but incredibly was able to change his damaged wheel and tyre in little over a minute.
"I avoided the cuts as much as I could but it was just the compression that made the puncture. What can I do?," said Ogier.
Rovanpera lost 2m17s in the test which dropped him out of the top 10.
There was also a slight drama for Neuville, who ended up winning the stage to inherit the rally lead. Neuville misjudged a chicane and clipped a hay bale which caused damage to the front of his tricolour i20N.
“We will keep going but if it's going to be tricky like this and hard to drive the car like this all weekend, it wont be easy,” said Neuville, who ended the stage 4.2s faster than second fastest Elfyn Evans, the Welshman recorded only one shakedown run on Thursday due to a turbo issue.
Ogier bounced back to win stage 3 as he pipped Neuville by 0.8s, with Evans lucky to be third fastest after suffering from a slow puncture towards the end of the test. Tanak kept himself in the mix as he battled his Puma to clock a time, 0.5s slower than Evans.
Rovanpera, however, continued to struggle adjusting to the road conditions and dropped another 8.1s.
“I am struggling with the car in the cuts and I think that's where I am losing most of the time,” he said.
Ogier once again proved he is the man to beat on the asphalt stage by claiming his third stage win from four in the final test of the loop.
The part-time Toyota driver and 2021 Croatia winner was 1.3s faster than Tanak, while leader Neuville dropped 2.1s.
In WRC2, Yohan Rossel led the class by 29.7s from Nikolay Gryazin ahead of a second pass through the stages for the crews this afternoon.
WRC Croatia: Friday morning result
|Renault Clio Rally4||RC4||26'13.2|
|2|| Thierry Neuville
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||RC1||32'50.0||6'36.8|
|3|| Elfyn Evans
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||33'06.4||6'53.2|
|4|| Ott Tanak
|Ford Puma Rally1||RC1||33'13.0||6'59.8|
|5|| Esapekka Lappi
|Hyundai i20 N Rally1||RC1||33'22.5||7'09.3|
|6|| Takamoto Katsuta
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||33'37.4||7'24.2|
|7|| Pierre-Louis Loubet
|Ford Puma Rally1||RC1||33'42.4||7'29.2|
|8|| Sébastien Ogier
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||34'19.2||8'06.0|
|9|| Yohan Rossel
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||34'22.4||8'09.2|
|10|| Nicolas Ciamin
|Volkswagen Polo GTI R5||RC2||34'55.9||8'42.7|
|11|| Oliver Solberg
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||34'56.5||8'43.3|
|12|| Nikolay Gryazin
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||34'56.6||8'43.4|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||35'10.1||8'56.9|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||35'18.3||9'05.1|
|15|| Kalle Rovanperä
|Toyota GR Yaris Rally1||RC1||35'23.4||9'10.2|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||35'37.3||9'24.1|
|17|| Emil Lindholm
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||35'46.6||9'33.4|
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||RC2||35'52.4||9'39.2|
|19|| Adrien Fourmaux
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||RC2||36'08.3||9'55.1|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||36'12.2||9'59.0|
|21|| Armin Kremer
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||36'17.6||10'04.4|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||36'42.6||10'29.4|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||36'56.7||10'43.5|
|24|| Gus Greensmith
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||37'10.9||10'57.7|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||37'14.2||11'01.0|
|Škoda Fabia RS Rally2||RC2||37'15.3||11'02.1|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||37'17.7||11'04.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||37'56.4||11'43.2|
|Hyundai i20 N Rally2||RC2||37'59.3||11'46.1|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||38'09.1||11'55.9|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||38'18.7||12'05.5|
|Toyota Yaris Rally2-Kit||RC2||38'23.7||12'10.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||38'35.4||12'22.2|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||38'39.7||12'26.5|
|Ford Fiesta Rally2||RC2||38'56.0||12'42.8|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||39'17.2||13'04.0|
|Opel Corsa Rally4||RC4||39'47.7||13'34.5|
|Citroën C3 Rally2||RC2||39'55.5||13'42.3|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||40'05.4||13'52.2|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||40'16.1||14'02.9|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||40'56.4||14'43.2|
|Renault Clio Rally4||RC4||40'59.7||14'46.5|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||41'21.0||15'07.8|
|Ford Fiesta Rally4||RC4||41'23.8||15'10.6|
|Ford Fiesta Rally4||RC4||41'39.7||15'26.5|
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||43'42.5||17'29.3|
|Peugeot 208 Rally4||RC4||44'00.1||17'46.9|
|Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo||RC2||44'36.5||18'23.3|
|Renault Clio Rally5||RC5||45'27.5||19'14.3|
|Ford Fiesta Rally3||RC3||46'43.5||20'30.3|
|View full results|
Video: Remembering Craig Breen's talent, passion and legacy
WRC Croatia: Neuville holds onto lead from charging Evans
Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado puts Ferrari top in final practice session
Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado puts Ferrari top in final practice session Le Mans 24 Hours: Calado puts Ferrari top in final practice session
Ferrari didn’t expect lap time for Le Mans 24 Hours pole
Ferrari didn’t expect lap time for Le Mans 24 Hours pole Ferrari didn’t expect lap time for Le Mans 24 Hours pole
United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying
United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying United has to "do something clever" to recover from tough Le Mans qualifying
Le Mans 24 Hours: Ferrari locks out front row, Cadillac suffers fire
Le Mans 24 Hours: Ferrari locks out front row, Cadillac suffers fire Le Mans 24 Hours: Ferrari locks out front row, Cadillac suffers fire
The Neuville splash and grab that ends Hyundai’s WRC win drought
The Neuville splash and grab that ends Hyundai’s WRC win drought The Neuville splash and grab that ends Hyundai’s WRC win drought
How Rovanpera fired the WRC a timely reminder of his class in Portugal
How Rovanpera fired the WRC a timely reminder of his class in Portugal How Rovanpera fired the WRC a timely reminder of his class in Portugal
How Evans ended his WRC drought in sombre Croatia breakthrough
How Evans ended his WRC drought in sombre Croatia breakthrough How Evans ended his WRC drought in sombre Croatia breakthrough
The Mexico maestro keeps cool among the WRC chaos
The Mexico maestro keeps cool among the WRC chaos The Mexico maestro keeps cool among the WRC chaos
How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland
How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland How the WRC title fight ignited in Sweden's winter wonderland
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling
Subscribe and access Autosport.com with your ad-blocker.
From Formula 1 to MotoGP we report straight from the paddock because we love our sport, just like you. In order to keep delivering our expert journalism, our website uses advertising. Still, we want to give you the opportunity to enjoy an ad-free and tracker-free website and to continue using your adblocker.