WRC points leader Neuville retires from Rally Chile after accident

World Rally Championship points leader Thierry Neuville has suffered a dramatic accident on stage eight of Rally Chile, forcing the Hyundai driver to retire

Neuville won the opening stage on Saturday morning, Rio Lia, and had climbed from fourth to third at the expense of Jari-Matti Latvala.

He was only 1.4 seconds behind reigning six-time champion Sebastien Ogier before SS8 and pushing to take second place away from the Citroen driver.

But around the halfway mark of Maria Las Cruces, Neuville suffered a big accident, his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC rolling several times before landing on its side in a heavily damaged state.

A tweet from Hyundai said Neuville required medical assistance after the accident.

The stage was later red flagged, with WRC2 Pro driver Mads Ostberg the last car to successfully complete SS8.

Latvala, who was the next car on the road, reported he had run wide over a crest immediately before the site of Neuville's crash and suggested the Belgian had likely been caught out in a similar manner.

Ott Tanak is still untroubled at the front of the field with an 30.8s lead over Ogier, who in turn has 16.7s in hand over Latvala.

There is potential for some of that gap to be reduced through notional times, however, as Latvala had been delayed by his own Toyota team-mate Kris Meeke on Rio Lia.

Meeke (pictured above) had run wide on a slow corner and hit a solid object, pitching his Yaris WRC into a roll, which dropped him well outside the top 10.

He drove at a reduced pace to the finish but was apparently unaware Latvala had caught him, with the Finn saying he had been stuck behind Meeke for "many kilometres".

Latvala's time on Rio Lia was 20.1s off Neuville's benchmark and fourth-slowest of the WRC runners, beating only Andreas Mikkelsen, gentleman driver Lorenzo Bertelli and Meeke.

Sebastien Loeb is now the lead Hyundai in fourth place, 4.4s behind Latvala.

Though benefitting from Latvala's hold-up on SS7, he went fastest on Maria Las Cruces to gain further time.

Leading positions after SS8

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Ott Tanak, M.Jarveoja Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 1h52m37.8s
2 Sebastien Ogier, J.Ingrassia Citroen Total WRT Citroen 30.8s
3 Jari-Matti Latvala, M.Anttila Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota 47.5s
4 Sebastien Loeb, D.Elena Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 51.9s
5 Elfyn Evans, S.Martin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 1m07.5s
6 Teemu Suninen, M.Salminen M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 2m31.1s
7 Esapekka Lappi, J.Ferm Citroen Total WRT Citroen 2m47.4s
8 Andreas Mikkelsen, A.Jager Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai 2m58.6s
9 Kalle Rovanpera, J.Halttunen Skoda Motorsport Skoda 4m53.9s
10 Mads Ostberg, T.Eriksen Citroen Total Citroen 5m32.5s
11 Gus Greensmith, E.Edmondson M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 6m43.0s
12 Lorenzo Bertelli, S.Scattolin M-Sport Ford WRT Ford 7m01.7s

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