Thierry Neuville - Photo Credit:

Thierry Neuville - Photo Credit:

Thierry Neuville won Rallye Sanremo in a third consecutive close finish in an Intercontinental Rally Challenge event.

Freddy Loix began the second day in the lead, 2.7 seconds ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen after moving past the Norwegian on the final night stage of the opening leg. Peugeot Belux driver Neuville meanwhile was 16.6s behind the Skoda duo.

Mikkelsen regained the lead on Saturday's first stage, before Loix went fastest two stages later to move back ahead. Loix however then crashed out on the following stage, and although he and co-driver Frederic Miclotte escaped unharmed their car was blocking the road and the stage had to be cancelled.

Neuville had been closing on Mikkelsen throughout the day and took the lead on the penultimate stage. This put him 0.3s ahead going into the final test, which he duly won to extend his final winning advantage to 1.5s. Mikkelsen is still waiting for his first IRC victory having crashed out of the lead in Hungary two weeks ago.

Bryan Bouffier completed the podium in third, 16s behind Neuville in his Peugeot France-backed 207. Points leader Jan Kopecky had a quiet rally after his narrow wins in the Czech Republic and Hungary and finished over a minute behind in fourth.

Bruno Magalhaes finished a solid fifth ahead of local drivers Alessandro Perico and Umberto Scandola. Pierre Campana was eighth with Toni Gardemeister and Giandomenico Basso completing the top ten.

Final results after 13 stages:

Pos. Driver Team Car Time/Gap
1 Thierry Neuville Peugeot Belux Peugeot 207 S2000 2:19:57.8
2 Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK Skoda Fabia S2000 +1.5
3 Bryan Bouffier Peugeot France Peugeot 207 S2000 +16.0
4 Jan Kopecky Skoda Skoda Fabia S2000 +1:09.1
5 Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal Peugeot 207 S2000 +1:26.0
6 Alessandro Perico PA Racing Peugeot 207 S2000 +3:47.8
7 Umberto Scandola Car Racing Ford Fiesta S2000 +4:05.9
8 Pierre Campana Munaretto Peugeot 207 S2000 +4:28.0
9 Toni Gardemeister TGS Worldwide Skoda Fabia S2000 +5:24.1
10 Giandomenico Basso Proton Proton Satria Neo S2000 +7:26.9

Drivers' standings after 9 of 11 rounds:

Pos Driver Points
1 Jan Kopecky 128
2 Thierry Neuville 103
3 Freddy Loix 103
4 Juho Hanninen 98
5 Bryan Bouffier 88
6 Andreas Mikkelsen 74