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Belgian Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) widened the gap at the top of Rallye d’Espagne after the second day on Saturday, still ahead of Elfyn Evans (Toyota) and Sébastien Ogier (Toyota), championship leader who remains a favorite for the world title .

After 13 of 17 specials, Neuville has a comfortable lead of 16.7 seconds over Evans and 38.7 over Ogier before the last day Sunday of this 11th out of 12 round this season.

Leader of the world championship with 24 points ahead of Evans before this weekend, Ogier must get ahead of the Briton and regain six points in the championship to be crowned, for the 8th time, on Sunday. Otherwise we will have to wait for the final at the Rallye de Monza (19-21 November).

For the moment, the Frenchman is fighting above all to preserve his 3rd place ahead of the Spaniard Dani Sordo (Hyundai), 4th 39.9 seconds behind Neuville and therefore only 1.2 seconds from Ogier.

“The victory seems far away now but we still have the chance to fight for the podium so we will hang on to that”, conceded the Frenchman at midday, frustrated by his “average pace, not terrible” .

“It may be necessary to force things a little more this afternoon”, he explained before joining the actions to the words.

Ogier then won, tied with Neuville, his first special of the rally (SS11) before doing it again alone for SS12: “Better late than never! I’m finally starting to feel better,” he said. , while Sordo regretted that his direct opponent had gone into “Sébastien Ogier mode” … until the final special of the day, when the Frenchman lost time again.

“We had managed to create a small margin on Dani but unfortunately we lost everything in the last (SS13) because of a wedging in a pin”, regretted Ogier after this short “special Mickey Mouse” in the streets of Salou , just one quick drive from the service park located at the PortAventura theme park.

With ten scratch times out of 13, Neuville is heading for a second success this season after Belgium, at home, already on asphalt. Five-time vice-world champion, he won 14 WRC rallies. But the current 3rd in the championship no longer has the opportunity to deprive the Frenchman of the title.

The only one who can do it is called Evans. A complicated mission for the 32-year-old Welshman, powerless against the Hyundai i20 from Neuville.

“Here we can not allow the slightest hesitation, we must be clinical in our conduct and I did not know how to be”, he regretted.

If the standings remain the same on Sunday, Ogier would only concede three points. The Frenchman, who has regained his feelings despite everything, can also count on the Power Stage to pocket points in the championship (5, 4, 3, 2, 1 for the first five), Sunday during the 17th and last special (12:18 p.m. ).

“But in any case it would be a much better situation than last year to tackle Monza,” Ogier recalled. “So honestly I don’t do the math. There is no alarm.”

In December 2020 in Italy, Ogier tackled the last rally of the year in second position, 14 points behind Evans … before taking advantage of the Welshman leaving the road to become seven-time world champion.

Ref: https://www.rfi.fr