by M.C. – photo: @thierryneuville | What are 0.7 seconds in life? Not much, but in motor-sports it can make a world of difference… When it comes to WRC that could be the time that prevents Sebastien Ogier (MSport) to achieve another WRC title. Or perhaps the time that gives Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) the chance to achieve his first total victory at the top category of the Rally Championship. It was just a mere 0.7 seconds ahead of the Frenchman from Ford MSport that the Belgian driver from Hyundai crossed the finish line in the last stretch of the Italian Rally in Sardegna. Thanks to this triumph Neuville keeps his leading position in the general classification, 27 points ahead of Ogier.
It was not only at the end that things got breathtakingly exciting, the whole weekend in Sardegna was a thrilling experience. Most of the action nonetheless was centred around Ogier and Neuville themselves, as nobody else came close to disputing the lead. The two drivers played cat and mouse right until the closing Powerstage, which started with 0.8 seconds in favour of Ogier. A gasp of air, but not quite enough to keep the lead until the end, which saw the Belgian driver finally claiming the victory.
In the middle of it all and with the nerves of the moment, the French driver’s co-pilot drove off without collecting his time card and was nearly penalised for having ex-team-mate Ott Tänak bringing it later on, although he got away with it at the end. The winner from last edition Ott Tänak (Toyota), could not repeat his legendary celebration with a swim at the port of Alghero, only managing a disappointing eighth position. Toyota however, did have someone on the podium, his team-mate, the Finnish driver Esapekka Lappi.
One of the funny images from the Italian rally was that of Jari Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila repairing their Toyota and pushing it back on the road. Despite the incident, they managed a well deserved seventh position.
There are still six races ahead of the very disputed and exciting duel of last weekend: Only time will tell if this Italian victory by a meagre 0.7 seconds proves crucial in the final outcome. It is all about time…
Results of Rally de Italia Sardegna:
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 3h29’18”
- Sébastien Ogier (Fra/Ford) to 0.7”
- Esapekka Lappi (Find/Toyota) to 1’56”
- Hayden Paddon (NZL/Hyunda) to 2’55”
- Mads Ostberg (Nor/Citroën) to 3’10”
Driver’s standings WRC:
- Thierry Neuville (Bel/Hyundai) 149 points
- Sébastien Ogier (Fra/Ford) 122 points
- Ott Tänak (Est/Toyota) 77 points
- Esapekka Lappi (Find/Toyota) 70 points
- Dani Sordo (Spa/Hyundai) 60 points