Thierry Neuville is the surprise leader of the 2019 Tour de Corse after a superb stage winning time on Saturday evening.
Going into the second run through the 47km Castagniccia stage, Elfyn Evans was leading the Belgian by 11.5 seconds after Ott Tänak dropped nearly two minutes with a puncture on the penultimate stage, but a time 16 seconds quicker than the M-Sport Ford driver gives Neuville a 4.5 second lead overall going into Sunday’s final two stages.
Disaster struck Tänak after he’d won the opening two stages of the day to regain the lead Evans had overnight and the Estonian is now down in sixth overall.
Sébastien Ogier gradually kept improving his pace but did complain of an engine problem late on despite leapfrogging Dani Sordo on the last stage of the day to move into third in Corsica, 40.3 seconds behind Neuville ahead of him. Teemu Suninen completes the top five with another cautious but solid day under his belt.
Championship leader Tänak was another man to make a move on the final stage on Saturday after getting the better of Esapekka Lappi while Sébastien Loeb is eighth, albeit over three minutes adrift of leader Neuville. Kris Meeke, who won stage 10 and Toyota teammate Jari-Matti Latvala complete the top 10 overall.
Drama again happened on the last stage as WRC2‘s Eric Camilli saw his Volkswagen Polo R5 burst into flames forcing the stage to be stopped. He and co-driver François-Xavier Buresi were unharmed in the incident. Further ahead on the road meanwhile, WRC2 PRO’s Łukasz Pieniążek hit a concrete wall which sent his car down a steep bank and he also went no further on Saturday evening. His rival in the class Kalle Rovanperä crashed out of the event on stage nine.
This leaves WRC2 being led by Fabio Andolfi ahead of Nikolay Gryazin, while the Junior WRC sees Tom Kristensson continue to lead the class going into Sunday, although just 0.4 seconds ahead of Denis Rådström.
Tomorrow sees two more stages to go on the 2019 Tour de Corse, including the rally ending Calvi Power Stage.