After winning the first stage of the Croatian rally, Sébastien Ogier lost more than a minute due to a puncture on the second.
However, everything had started well for Sébastien Ogier… For his third rally of the season (he won in Monte-Carlo and in Mexico and skipped the Swedish rally), the French driver had won the first special of the Croatian rally. (19.2km) this Friday morning, two and a half seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville and ten and a half seconds over Ott Tänak, as he opened the road. “It was difficult because the grip is weak. But we kind of expected that after a wet week there would be dirt on the road. So far, so good. »
It’s after things went wrong… During SS2, extended by five kilometers compared to last year and nicknamed “the special with 1000 bends”, Sébastien Ogier suffered a puncture and had to stop his Toyota at the 12th kilometer to change a wheel, so that he lost 1’32 on the winner of the special, Thierry Neuville, who becomes the new leader. “I avoided cutting as much as possible but it was just the compression that made the puncture. What can I do ? “, Lamented the eight-time world champion on arrival. The end of the rally will be long for the Gapençais, who will have to hope for a combination of circumstances to finish in the Top 5.
Rovanperä struggles too
But its rivals are not immune to a problem either. As proof, the world champion Kalle Rovanperä also had a puncture with his Toyota and finished the special 2’17 behind Neuville, who himself damaged the front of his Hyundai when he hit a bale of hay in a chicane. After the first two specials, the Belgian leads the general classification with fourteen seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans, who avoided the pitfalls, and twenty over Ott Tänak. Three different teams therefore occupy the podium. First Frenchman, Pierre-Louis Loubet is sixth at the wheel of his Ford, 45 seconds behind the leader. Eight specials are scheduled for this Friday.
RALLY – WRC / CROATIA
Classification after 2 specials (out of 20)
1- Thierry Neuville – Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai) in 27’18″4
2- Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (GBR-GBR/Toyota) at 13″9
3- Ott Tänak – Martin Järveoja (EST-EST / M-Sport Ford) at 20″
4- Esapekka Lappi – Jann Ferm (FIN-FIN/Hyundai) at 26″
5- Takamoto Katsuta – Aaron Johnston (JAP-IRL/Toyota) at 43″7
6- Pierre Louis Loubet – Nicolas Gilsoul (ENG-BEL/M-Sport Ford) at 45″5
7- Yohan Rossel – Arnaud Dunand (FRA-FRA / Citroën) at 1’41″3
8- Sébastien Ogier – Vincent Landais (FRA-FRA/Toyota) at 1’30
Ogier: 1 (SS1)
Neuville: 1 (SS2)