SS 18 - Stage Flash - Francorchamps
The start of the Francorchamps 1 stage was slightly delayed but that did nothing to dent the concentration of Thierry Neuville at the Renties Ypres Rally Belgium.
The second of the stages featuring sections of the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit was 11.21km long and it was Tänak to take the stage win with a time of 6:56.9 for the Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT.
Kalle Rovenperä took second for Toyota GAZOO Racing WRT just 0.5 seconds off the stage win. With that time, he was able to take third position in the overall standings from his teammate.
After a little shock in the day’s opening state, Craig Breen showed a composed run to take third, 2.9 seconds off the stage win.
Rally leader, Thierry Neuville ran a sensible stage, protecting his lead and in the meantime, taking fourth, 4.3 seconds off the ultimate pace,
Sébastien Ogier was fifth followed by Elfyn Evans. Evans dropped off the podium after losing 6.1 seconds on the stage and is now 3.9 seconds behind his teammate in the overall standings.
Pierre-Louis Loubet took seventh in his 2C Competition Hyundai from Gus Greensmith in the M-Sport Fiesta.
Nikolay Gryazin took the WRC2 stage win but Jari Huttunen continues to lead the category.
Yohan Rossel built on his lead in WRC3 as Sébastien Bedoret lost more than 35 seconds on his class mates and drops behind PJM Cracco in the standings.
Stage results – SS18
- Tänak/Järveoja 6:56.9
- Rovenperä/Halttunen +0.5
- Breen/Nagle +2.9
- Neuville/Wydaeghe +4.3
- Ogier/Ingrassia +5.4
O/A after SS18
- Neuville/Wydaeghe 2:18:27.6
- Breen/Nagle +14.9
- Rovenperä/Halttunen +40.5
- Evans/Martin +44.4
- Ogier/Ingrassia +54.6
Car #10 P.L. Loubet – F.Haut-Labourdette (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC) : “At the beginning it's going to be tricky. You have a lot of mud parts, so even when you are on the road it's quite slippery. Very nice."
Car #44 G.Greensmith – C.Patterson (Ford Fiesta WRC): "It was very tricky. I was very, very cautious, but again, there was a lot of pollution on the road, so you've got to be careful in there."
Car #8 O.Tänak – M.Järveoja (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC): "To drive in this place would be on the bucket list, but I would say in something with 500 more horsepower would be a bit better."
Car #1 S.Ogier – J.Ingrassia (Toyota Yaris WRC): "We will see. Unfortunately, I had a puncture on the first one, and now we have to focus on the power stage. It's a special place - of course on the track it's a bit slow with this kind of car, but it's nice to be here."
Car #69 K.Rovenperä – J.Halttunen (Toyota Yaris WRC) : "It was quite good. A really difficult stage, but I just tried to be clean. Let's see what Elfyn does, but I think for me it was a quite okay run."
Car #33 E.Evans – S.Martin (Toyota Yaris WRC): "Nothing in particular, I was just too wild in the previous one and tried to tidy it up, but obviously not pushing hard enough now. We'll keep going."
Car #42 C.Breen – P.Nagle (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC): "I'm very happy to do a clean stage. That was very silly what I did this morning, I should have been so much more alert there, but we survived."
Car #11 T.Neuville – M.Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 Coupé WRC) : “I tried to avoid the cuts and the stones. I had a clean run through, but I was quite careful."