Thierry Neuville took his and Hyundai’s first victory in the World Rally Championship after an eventful Rallye Deutschland.
Neuville was handed the lead with only two stages to go. Jari-Matti Latvala and Kris Meeke both fell out of the lead after crashing on Sunday morning.
Latvala had been leading by more than 50 seconds over Meeke going into the final rounds. But Latvala, who gained the lead after team-mate Sebastien Ogier retired after a crash early on, lost the lead on stage 15 after going off into a vineyard.
Meeke held the lead very briefly. The Ulsterman ended up hitting awall at the start of round 16 due to a faulty pace-note.
This left Neuville with a lead of 37 seconds over team-mate Dani Sordo with just two stages to go. The Belgian was able to extend his advantage to 40 seconds to claim a momentous win for both him and the team.
Neuville’s win was made all the more impressive due to the fact that he rolled the car during shakedown on Thursday. The damage was so severe it took his mechanics 18 hours to fix his i20.
And the Belgian was more than thankful for the team’s efforts. “I can only say thank you to the team. They did a fantastic job after our roll on shakedown and I couldn’t believe we could do such a good result. We put pressure on the others and it paid off.”
The remaining Volkswagen of Andreas Mikkelsen finished third after a spin on stage 15 where his team-mate Latvala went off.
Elfyn Evans, who took three bonus points for his Powerstage win, was a close fourth, just five seconds off third place ahead of team-mate Mikko Hirvonen in fifth.
Mads Ostberg rounded out the top six comfortably ahead of Martin Prokop, and Dennis Kuipers.
Robert Kubica and Bryan Bouffier were other notable non-finishers. Kubica suffered gearbox problems going to the final stages on Sunday. Whilst Bouffier, in the works Hyundai, went off at the start of the final stage.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Thierry Neuville Hyundai 3h07m20.2s
2. Dani Sordo Hyundai +40.7s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen VW +58.0s
4. Elfyn Evans M-Sport Ford +1m03.6s
5. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport Ford +1m10.5s
6. Mads Ostberg Citroen +1m22.7s
7. Martin Prokop Czech Ford +4m52.8s
8. Dennis Kuipers M-Sport Ford +9m18.1s
9. Pontus Tidemand M-Sport Ford +11m35.4s *
10. Ott Tanak Autotek Ford +11m37.2s *