CLICK HERE for Rally Italia Sardegna result

Thierry Neuville took a morale boosting victory on Rally Italia Sardegna today in his Hyundai i20 WRC, 24.8secs up on Jari-Matti Latvala.

Neuville, who has had a difficult start to the season, had a 16.1 second advantage coming into Sunday's final leg, but with quickest times in three of the day's four stages easily did enough to ensure he won.

It was his second career WRC victory after he also won with Hyundai in Germany back in 2014, although this time it was very much on merit.

"We have had a great weekend," said Neuville. "Great things come to those who go and earn it.

"This result goes to Philippe Bugalski. He helped me a lot with my career and it would have been his birthday today. Hopefully this win will set me up for the rest of the season - a great confidence boost."

"This weekend the feeling with the car was great, we will see for the rest of the season," he added.

"It is all about confidence."

Neuville took the lead on Friday morning, after winning SS4 and SS5. He then briefly lost it on the repeat loop, before going fastest in SS7, SS8 and SS9 to conclude the opening leg with an 11.1sec cushion.

On Saturday morning, Latvala closed, reducing the gap to just 2.9secs, but Neuville fought back in the afternoon, winning two more stage wins to see off the Volkswagen pilot, who then admitted defeat today after SS17.

Behind, Sebastien Ogier took the final spot on the podium, despite having to endure the worst of the conditions as the road opener on Friday and Saturday.

He also won the Power Stage in his Polo R WRC and now increases his lead in the Drivers' Championship, stretching it from 47 points to 63.

Dani Sordo was fourth in his Hyundai, albeit more than a minute further back, with DMACK WRT man Ott Tanak rounding out the top five.

M-Sport's Eric Camilli was next up in sixth, overhauling Ford privateer Henning Solberg in Sunday's opening test. Camilli also took his very first stage win in SS17.

Further back, Teemu Suinen took eighth and the WRC2 victory, with class rivals Jan Kopecky and Karl Kruuda rounding out the top ten.

Suinen finished 49.6secs up on Kopecky, while Kruuda was more than 3 minutes further back.

Martin Prokop ended up 11th, but after being given a 5-minute penalty at the start remained deeply unhappy: "This is my favourite rally of the year but from the beginning we struggled with the penalty decision. This is a nice rally but I will leave the championship now. I do not like the atmosphere and I am not happy with this situation.

"For the summer I will not race anymore. If things change I will come back, but I don't know when."

Of the rest, VW Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen was classified 13th, re-starting under Rally 2 after hitting a rock on Saturday afternoon and breaking a track control arm on his Polo R WRC.

Hyundai Motorsport #4 driver Kevin Abbring finished two spots back in 15th. Abbring suffered a number of issues throughout the event, losing time on Friday morning after breaking a prop shaft and then also losing out on Saturday with a double puncture and a gearbox issue.

In terms of retirements, Hayden Paddon and Mads Ostberg were the two big name casualties.

Paddon rolled off the road near the end of SS7 on Friday, while running in ninth in his Hyundai.

Ostberg then went out on Saturday after clipping a rock in the final test, breaking the front-right driveshaft, which in turn caused damage to the engine. Ostberg had been battling for third in his M-Sport Fiesta RS WRC.

The World Rally Championship now heads Poland next, with that event running from June 30 to July 3.

CLICK HERE for Rally Italia Sardegna result

 

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