SS7-8: Double take for Neuville
Wales Rally GB
Thierry Neuville was fastest on both Saturday morning’s rain-soaked opening tests at Wales Rally GB as the dismal weather matched the fortunes of Mads Østberg and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Neuville’s Hyundai i20 topped the times in Gartheiniog by 1.2sec from Latvala before going fastest in the longer Dyfi test by 1.1sec from Sébastien Ogier.
But Østberg yielded fourth place after dropping almost a minute in Dyfi following a big impact and Latvala retired his Volkswagen Polo R following the stage after driving the final 15km with a broken driveshaft.
“I have no idea what happened,” said Østberg. “I had a big impact on the front right on a straight. I was shocked because I didn’t see anything.” There was no evidence of a puncture on his DS 3 at the finish but the Norwegian left quickly to investigate.
Dani Sordo moved his i20 ahead of Østberg, the Spaniard 7.7sec to the good.
Third-placed Andreas Mikkelsen reported a similar problem in his Polo R. “I heard something go bang about 10km from the finish and afterwards the car felt strange and I lost grip,” said Mikkelsen, whose car also showed no signs of a puncture.
Although the rain fell steadily, grip was good and leader Ogier and second-placed Meeke had clean runs in both tests. Ogier widened his overnight lead to 15.1sec but the Frenchman’s mind wasn’t really on the rally following last night’s tragic events in Paris.
“It’s hard to carry on when these kind of things are happening. The things we do are secondary. We’ll try to find a better mind later,” he said.
Elfyn Evans lost time in Gartheiniog after stalling at a hairpin near the start and ended Dyfi with a light pod hanging loose from the front left of his Ford Fiesta.
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