2019 Tour de Corse: Neville Wins After Final Stage Heartbreak for Evans

by Steven Batey

Thierry Neuville won the Tour de Corse on the very last stage of the event after Elfyn Evans suffered a devastating puncture.

A fine opening stage win on Sunday morning gave Evans a 11.5 seconds lead over the Hyundai Shell Mobis driver going into the Calvi Power Stage and Neuville believed he would have to settle for second after he crossed the finish line on stage 14.

But drama was to come as M-Sport Ford driver Evans appeared to hit a stone mid-way through the stage and deflated the right front tyre. He carried on but dropped over a minute and a half on stage winner Kris Meeke and Neuville claimed the win, as well as the lead of the Drivers’ Championship as a result.

He said on his last gasp victory: “I tried to contact the team to get information, but we were unsure if we had won or not. Arriving at the podium I saw my mechanics and only then I understood we had.”

“I’m really disappointed for Elfyn, who did a really good job, but we deserved it as well. It was a great battle.”

Evans suffered a puncture midway through the final stage of the event. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

A gutted Evans meanwhile added: “It’s difficult to accept but it’s the nature of the sport. I think it happened on a straight piece of road, a hole or piece of stone that had lifted. I felt it straightaway but tried to drive on it to see if we could minimise the time loss.”

Sébastien Ogier also leapfrogged Evans in the standings because of the puncture, pushing him down to third in the standings, with the top five being completed by Dani Sordo and Teemu Suninen.

Meeke chose to cruise through the previous stage in a bid to save his tyres for the Power Stage with the gamble paying off as he was 4.5 seconds quicker than Toyota teammate Ott Tänak with Suninen, Neuville and Ogier also claiming bonus points.

Kris Meeke won the Power Stage. Photo Credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool

Overall, sixth went to Tänak after he got the better of Esapekka Lappi late on Saturday afternoon, with the top 10 being rounded out by Sébastien Loeb, Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala.

Łukasz Pieniążek restarted under Super Rally after his crash yesterday to claim the WRC2 PRO win after Kalle Rovanperä’s withdrawal earlier in the event, while the WRC2 battle went the way of Fabio Andolfi on the final stage after he beat Nikolay Gryazin by 4.6 seconds and 3.9 seconds overall.

The Junior WRC also saw last stage last stage drama as Julius Tannert leapfrogged Tom Kristensson to grab the win after a close battle throughout the weekend.

Round five of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Argentina which takes place between April 25-28.

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