SS19: Neuville wins Power Stage points
Thierry Neuville scooped three bonus drivers’ championship points with the fastest time on the repeated Clocaenog, the Wales Rally GB Power Stage.
The Belgian piloted his Ford Fiesta RS through the slippery test, run on Thursday night as SS3, 0.5sec quicker than Evgeny Novikov in a similar car. Mads Ostberg collected the final bonus point for third fastest, making it a Fiesta 1-2-3.
Clocaenog was the last forest challenge of Wales Rally GB, and the last realistic opportunity for drivers to make a difference to their positions.
But for Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen, one last push for fourth almost took him out of the rally altogether - the Norwegian arriving at the stop control with fir tree branches poking from the bodywork of his Polo.
“We tried everything but we were just too fast in a corner,” he explained. “The right rear hit a bank and spun us round in fifth gear – which was not so nice. We are very lucky to be here at all!”
With the gap to Ostberg now up to 17.5sec, the battle for fourth appears to be over, while at the top of the leaderboard a furious Jari-Matti Latvala felt he had blown his last chance to catch Ogier.
“I stalled engine on the junction and I lost a lot of time,” he said. “What can I do? I can’t be anything else other than second on this rally and I’m really not happy about that.”
Ogier ended up fourth quickest but was content to have got through cleanly. “I have no idea how competitive the time was - that’s not the point,” he said at the finish control. “For me it’s all about winning the rally, so no risks at all.”
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