Thierry Neuville has claimed his and Hyundai Mobis Shell World Rally Team’s first victory of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season by making it through Rally Italia Sardegna’s rain-hit Wolf Power Stage at the top of the provisional classification.
With fellow Belgian Martijn Wydaeghe co-driving, Neuville’s success was his 18th in the WRC and his third on the Mediterranean island’s demanding gravel event and means there have been four different winners so far this season.
“It was a challenging weekend,” said the 34-year-old, who piloted a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid. “We came here with the belief that we could fight for the victory but we lost a bit of time on the first day, we caught it back and lost it again. But then we found ourselves in the lead and we had to manage it. It’s the first victory of the season, the first for our team principal and it’s a one-two for the team. We all have Craig in our memories as well.”
Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferme made it a Hyundai one-two with Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen third for Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT and the winners of the 50th Wolf Power Stage in their Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid.
1. T Neuville / M Wydaeghe BEL Hyundai i20 N 3h 40m 1.4s
2. E Lappi / J Ferm FIN Hyundai i20 N +33.0s
3. K Rovanperä / J Halttunen FIN Toyota GR Yaris +1m 55.3s
4. E Evans / S Martin GBR Toyota GR Yaris +5m 20.5s
5. A Mikkelsen / T Eriksen NOR Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 +9m 33.3s
6. T Suninen / M Markkula FIN Hyundai i20 N Rally2 +11m 48.9s
Drivers' championship (after round 6 of 13):
1. K Rovanperä 118pts
2. T Neuville 93pts
3. S Ogier 85pts
Full report to follow.