Neuville wins Rally Sweden, takes points lead
Rally Sweden

Neuville wins Rally Sweden, takes points lead

18/02/2018

Thierry Neuville took his first World Rally Championship victory of the season with a dominant performance on Rally Sweden, while Craig Breen took a career-best second.

Both Neuville and Breen rebounded fantastically from their showings last year on the event, when Neuville crashed out of the lead and Breen had to deal with a recalcitrant Citroen C3 WRC.

Neuville controlled the rally from the first stage proper on Friday, and only a spin on Saturday morning's loop threatened his dominance.

That allowed Breen to close in, but Neuville then re-established his lead on Saturday afternoon and sealed victory with a conservative but intelligent drive on Sunday to win by 19.8 seconds.

Breen, who targeted a podium pre-event, betters his Rally Finland third-place in 2016 with the result in Sweden, showing a dramatic improvement in the C3.

Rounding out the podium was Andres Mikkelsen, who span at the same corner as Neuville on Saturday morning and could not retake second place from Breen.

The third Hyundai of Hayden Paddon held fourth for most of the rally, but he was beaten to the position by the leading Toyota - the car that won last year's event in Jari-Matti Latvala's hands - of Esapekka Lappi on Sunday morning.

Lappi had been in a fight for the podium but a mistake on Friday left him scrabbling to rebound. He did so emphatically on Sunday morning, and was aided further by a Paddon trip into a snowbank on the powerstage.

Lappi also claimed five points for the powerstage win to add to his comeback drive. Paddon did hold onto fifth despite his off, with Mads Ostberg close to usurping him.

Ostberg was making his debut in a C3 WRC and was in the top five for most of the event, but struggled for a consistent feel from him car and eventually reverted to his original set-up.

Latvala was another driver who struggled with set-up and showed no sign of matching last year's winning performance. A front driveshaft issue did not help his cause on Friday, and he eventually finished seventh.

On his first outing in a modern World Rally Car this year, Teemu Suninen finished as the top M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC driver, despite being ultra-critical of his own driving on his first outing in Sweden in modern machinery.

Ott Tanak (Toyota) and Suninen's team-mate Sebastien Ogier both struggled with road sweeping on Friday and struggled to rebound.

Tanak did the best job, moving through the top 10 before he was caught behind the stalled Citroen of Kris Meeke on Saturday and dropped down to ninth, where he remained.

Ogier took second on the powerstage, claiming four points, but also took a penalty. He was due to start ahead of Tanak in the order but dropped way down the field. It is not clear whether Ogier had a problem or if it was a tactical move to gain road position.

Takamoto Katsuta earned WRC2 honours in a brilliant drive. The Finnish-based Japanese driver beat reigning champion Pontus Tidemand to the honours.

Related news

Fernando Alonso's Toyota wins Le Mans 24 Hours after dominant display

Fernando Alonso's Toyota wins Le Mans 24 Hours after dominant display

Toyota Gazoo Racing secured a dominant one-two at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday.

Lorenzo dominates to take second Ducati win

Lorenzo dominates to take second Ducati win

Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo scored his second consecutive MotoGP win, converting pole position at Barcelona into a dominant triumph after a short battle with Marc Marquez.

Lorenzo on pole for Ducati at home Catalunya MotoGP

Lorenzo on pole for Ducati at home Catalunya MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo claimed his first MotoGP pole position for Ducati in qualifying for the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Sebastian Vettel reclaims championship lead with dominant Canada win

Sebastian Vettel reclaims championship lead with dominant Canada win

Sebastian Vettel retook the lead of the drivers' championship after winning the Canadian Grand Prix ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.

Neuville beats Ogier by a fraction of a second in Sardinia

Neuville beats Ogier by a fraction of a second in Sardinia

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville overhauled World Rally Championship rival Sebastien Ogier on the last stage in a dramatic conclusion to win Rally Italy by just 0.7 seconds.

Neuville closes on Ogier's Rally Italy lead

Neuville closes on Ogier's Rally Italy lead

The charging Hyundai of Thierry Neuville cut his World Rally Championship rival Sebastien Ogier's Rally Italy lead down to only 1.3 seconds on Sunday morning, with just two stages remaining.

Latvala retires from WRC Rally Italy battle

Latvala retires from WRC Rally Italy battle

Jari-Matti Latvala has lost third place on Rally Italy, after a technical problem forced him to retire his Toyota despite the World Rally Championship's Saturday stages having already been completed.

Ogier and Neuville 3.9 seconds apart in Sardinia

Ogier and Neuville 3.9 seconds apart in Sardinia

World champion Sebastien Ogier and Belgian title rival Thierry Neuville were locked in a tight battle after the penultimate leg of the Rally of Italy in Sardinia on Saturday.

Ogier holds Neuville at bay in tight Italy battle

Ogier holds Neuville at bay in tight Italy battle

Sebastien Ogier maintained a slim lead on Rally Italy ahead of World Rally Championship rival Thierry Neuville at the end of Saturday, taking a 3.9-second advantage into the deciding day.

RELATED NEWS

Fernando Alonso's Toyota wins Le Mans 24 Hours after dominant display
Le Mans 24 Hours

Fernando Alonso's Toyota wins Le Mans 24 Hours after dominant display

Toyota Gazoo Racing secured a dominant one-two at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday.

Lorenzo dominates to take second Ducati win
MotoGP - Catalunya Grand Prix

Lorenzo dominates to take second Ducati win

Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo scored his second consecutive MotoGP win, converting pole position at Barcelona into a dominant triumph after a short battle with Marc Marquez.

Lorenzo on pole for Ducati at home Catalunya MotoGP
MotoGP - Catalunya Grand Prix - Qualifying

Lorenzo on pole for Ducati at home Catalunya MotoGP

Jorge Lorenzo claimed his first MotoGP pole position for Ducati in qualifying for the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona.

Sebastian Vettel reclaims championship lead with dominant Canada win
Canadian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel reclaims championship lead with dominant Canada win

Sebastian Vettel retook the lead of the drivers' championship after winning the Canadian Grand Prix ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.

Neuville beats Ogier by a fraction of a second in Sardinia
WRC Rally Italy

Neuville beats Ogier by a fraction of a second in Sardinia

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville overhauled World Rally Championship rival Sebastien Ogier on the last stage in a dramatic conclusion to win Rally Italy by just 0.7 seconds.

Neuville closes on Ogier's Rally Italy lead
WRC Rally Italy

Neuville closes on Ogier's Rally Italy lead

The charging Hyundai of Thierry Neuville cut his World Rally Championship rival Sebastien Ogier's Rally Italy lead down to only 1.3 seconds on Sunday morning, with just two stages remaining.

Latvala retires from WRC Rally Italy battle
WRC Rally Italy

Latvala retires from WRC Rally Italy battle

Jari-Matti Latvala has lost third place on Rally Italy, after a technical problem forced him to retire his Toyota despite the World Rally Championship's Saturday stages having already been completed.

Ogier and Neuville 3.9 seconds apart in Sardinia
WRC Rally Italy

Ogier and Neuville 3.9 seconds apart in Sardinia

World champion Sebastien Ogier and Belgian title rival Thierry Neuville were locked in a tight battle after the penultimate leg of the Rally of Italy in Sardinia on Saturday.

Ogier holds Neuville at bay in tight Italy battle
WRC Rally Italy

Ogier holds Neuville at bay in tight Italy battle

Sebastien Ogier maintained a slim lead on Rally Italy ahead of World Rally Championship rival Thierry Neuville at the end of Saturday, taking a 3.9-second advantage into the deciding day.