Thierry Neuville avoids trou­ble to win in Poland

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Thierry Neuville cranked up the pres­sure on four-time de­fend­ing world rally cham­pion Se­bastien Ogier by charg­ing to a third win of the sea­son in Poland.

The Bel­gian en­tered yesterday with a 3.1-sec­ond lead over Ott Tanak, but the Es­to­nian’s hopes evap­o­rated on the penul­ti­mate stage as he was forced to aban­don the rally af­ter slam­ming into a bank.

Neuville won two fur­ther stages on the fi­nal day-post­ing the quick­est time in nine of 22 spe­cials in to­tal-to fin­ish 1min 23.9sec clear of fel­low Hyundai driver Hayden Pad­don of New Zealand.

“What a great re­sult for the whole team!” said Neuville. “I am re­ally de­lighted for ev­ery­one in­volved. It was a closely fought bat­tle this week­end, as it seems to have been for the past few events. “It was cer­tainly a re­lief to re­take the lead af­ter Ott’s re­tire­ment this morn­ing, as it al­lowed us some breath­ing space in the fi­nal stages.”

While Hayden posted his best per­for­mance of the sea­son, Ogier took third ahead as Fin­land’s Jari-Matti Lat­vala was forced out while less than 15 sec­onds off the lead on Satur­day due to me­chan­i­cal prob­lems.

Neuville, a winner in France and Ar­gentina ear­lier this sea­son, trails Ogier by just 11 points with five races left on the cal­en­dar.

“Our goal for the week­end was to outscore Seb, which we did, and we have closed the gap in the cham­pi­onship for the sec­ond rally in a row,” added Neuville, run­ner-up to Ogier in the cham­pi­onship in both 2013 and 2016.

Ogier, who dam­aged his Ford Fiesta early on Satur­day and lost more than 30 sec­onds as he skid­ded off the road, was just re­lieved to have made it over the fin­ish line.

“I’m just happy to have fin­ished it. This podium isn’t de­served but that hap­pens some­times and you have to take it,” said Ogier. “I’m sorry for Ott, he had done fan­tas­tic work and was very quick. It’s a shame things fin­ished like that for him.”

Tanak, who was chas­ing a sec­ond suc­ces­sive vic­tory af­ter his maiden tri­umph in Italy last month, ac­cepted his mis­for­tune was part and par­cel of ral­ly­ing.

“It hap­pens. You have to push very hard if you want to win,” Tanak said, who was cru­elly de­nied vic­tory in last year’s Rally of Poland af­ter suf­fer­ing a punc­ture on the fi­nal day.— AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.