Neuville overcomes engine issues to top Rally Australia shakedown

by Vince Pettit

Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville was fastest in the last shakedown of the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship, despite having an early engine problem.

The Belgian set a time of 2:56.3 on the 3.12 mile test to secure the top sport in his i20, which spent most of the morning sat in the service are while the team investigated an oil leak.

With the issue identified – a falty crank trigger component, the team managed to get the car out ready for Neuville to complete the session, setting his fastest time on the final pass.

Following his victory last time out, Elfyn Evans finished joint second place with Frenchman Stéphane Lefebvre as they finished five-tenths of a second behind the lead Hyundai.

Ott Tänak set the pace in the opening stages of the session, recording a 3:00.5 on his first run in the Australian heat.

Kris Meeke made it to the top of the time sheets on his second pass, before dropping to fifth position, and was eclipsed as the road cleaned and a deep layer of loose gravel was swept from the surface

Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth fastest ahead of Kris Meeke, while Tänak and Breen tied for sixth place, and Esapekka Lappi and Andreas Mikkelsen tied for eighth place.

Hayden Paddon rounded out the top ten times.

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