Thierry Neuville takes the lead in Rally Japan

© EPA-EFE

Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) ends the second full day of competition in the Rally Japan, the final round of the WRC 2022, as the leader. At the end of the twelfth stage, he took the lead from Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris Rally1) who followed in second at 4 seconds. Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) is third at 39.9 seconds. Grégoire Munster (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) has moved up to ninth place. In WRC2 he is third.

Jeroen De PauwSource: BELGA

Leader Elfyn Evans immediately set the fastest time on Saturday morning, followed by Thierry Neuville. Craig Breen (Ford Puma Rally1) suffered from an idler but was able to limit the time loss to 17.6 sec. World champion Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota Yaris Rally1) was less fortunate. The Finn also punctured but had to stop to replace his puncture, losing 2:46 and all chances of victory. Following Ogier’s puncture on Friday, the young Finn is the second Toyota driver to have been eliminated from overall victory due to a puncture.

Sébastien Ogier was fastest in the second stage, Ott Tänak (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) won the third stage. After the first loop of three stages, Evans remained in the lead, but Neuville continued to put pressure from second position, 6.5 seconds behind. Grégoire Munster had meanwhile crept into the top 10 with tenth place overall.

Not enough divers

Sébastien Ogier won two stages on Saturday afternoon (local time). The Frenchman kept off Thierry Neuville, who in turn did the same with Evans and, without winning a single GC, replaced Evans as leader.

Neuville’s car. © AFP

The second full day of competition was to conclude with two short 1.4 km GC stages in Okazaki. But that ended up being only one that started with almost an hour delay. There would not have been enough divers to get participants out of the water in the event of a crash. With a low sun and cold tires, Thierry Neuville set the fastest time, his only time in the rally so far. Grégoire Munster had a trouble free day, setting some strong times and finishing the day in ninth overall and third in WRC2.

There will be five more rides on Sunday. With only four seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans, Thierry Neuville still has to work hard on the final day.

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