Not only did Thierry Neuville (Hyundai Motorsport) recorded his first stage win of the year in SS12, he immediately did it again by being the fastest in SS13, the second pass between Malijai and Puimichel (17.31km), in front of many fans of Sébastien Ogier massed along this pretty country road dotted with bumps.
“I hurt my back a bit on one of the jumps, but it’s ok,” said the Belgian driver on the finish line. He had once again been faster than the three leading Toyota Gazoo Racing drivers, in the following order: Kalle Rovanperä at 0.2 second, Elfyn Evans at 3 seconds, Sébastien Ogier at 3.9 seconds.
“The stage was a bit dirty at the end, now there is only one left today, by night, it’s always nice in these conditions”, added the eight-time World Champion, focused more than ever on claiming an historical 9th win in the Principality on Sunday.
After SS13, Neuville is still 3rd overall, less than 10 seconds behind Rovanperä (2nd) who therefore has no room for error if he wants to preserve the hope, for Toyota, of a 1-2 on Sunday. Evans (4th) is now 22 seconds behind Neuville and the Japanese hat-trick no longer seems to be on the agenda, especially if no major incident happens on Sunday.