Thierry Neuville is now the leader of the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse at the end of a dramatic day.
The Belgian was in second place when overnight leader Kris Meeke retired from the event with engine failure.
The Hyundai driver then had to hold off a charging Sébastien Ogier, but took advantage of the M-Sport driver’s mechanical problems to end the day with a 39 second lead.
Neuville began the day with fastest times on the first two special stages which vaulted him past an unhappy Ogier.
The championship leader was struggling with his set-up, feeling that the ride height was too low and scraping on the numerous Corsica bumps.
Meeke meanwhile was feeling comfortable and had a healthy lead due to Ogier’s troubles. Yet at the end of stage six, he felt oil on the tyres and then oil coming through the vents into the cabin.
Suddenly the engine let go and all of Meeke’s and Citroen‘s hard work was in vain.
The Northern Irishman was out for the weekend.
Indeed, it capped off a horrible morning for the French manufacturer which lost Stéphane Lefebvre on the first stage, when he clouted a wall and retired for the day.
The morning also saw an accident for DMACK driver Elfyn Evans, when he drove his Fiesta WRC into the scenery on stage six.
The afternoon saw Ogier strike back and on stage seven he was fastest by five seconds, trimming Neuville’s lead to 2.2 seconds.
However at the end of the stage, the hydraulics failed, turning his Fiesta into a rear-wheel drive with no active diffs or paddleshift gear-selection.
This meant he lost 36 seconds on the final stage of the rally to a rampant Neuville.
“At the end of SS7 we lost hydraulic pressure,” Ogier recounted.
“We don’t have any diff, no gear shifting and we’re a a proper rear-wheel-drive car. It behaved quite strangely!”
There was more joy for Hyundai as Dani Sordo occupied the remaining podium position place, but he was only 12 seconds in front of a rejuvenated Jari-Matti Latvala.
Latvala proclaimed his Toyota Yaris WRC as “feeling like a completely different car compared to the first day.”
“I’m really enjoying the driving now,” the Finn remarked as he climbed two places to end the day in fourth place.
Fifth was the remaining Citroen of Craig Breen, the Irishman having been slowed by intercom problems on the rally where clear instructions from the co-driver is most important.
In WRC2 Andreas Mikkelsen still holds a commanding lead over M-Sport’s Teemu Suninen.
Throughout the day the gap between the two remained at a constant 1 minute 7 seconds and looks likely to remain that way for the rest of the event.
Raphael Astier continues to dominate WRC3 while in the Junior World Rally Championship, Spaniard Nil Solans has a reasonably comfortable cushion of 25 seconds over French competitors Terry Folb and Nicolas Ciamin, all in Ford Fiesta R2s.
In the RGT Trophy, Romain Dumas added another minute to his advantage over Francois Delecour in their private duel.