The Belgian heads into Sunday’s final leg with a 4.5sec advantage after charging ahead of pioneer Elfyn Evans at the marathon 47km Castagniccia speed test that ended your day.
Evans started the test having an 11.5sec advantage within his Ford Fiesta after his frantic tussle for the guide along using Ott Tänak ended in the previous special stage. Even the Toyota Yaris driver conceded two minutes after quitting to change a punctured tyre.
Evans’ advantage appeared healthy, however an increasingly confident Neuville out-gunned him 16.0sec within his Hyundai i-20 to set up a thrilling final day shootout.
“today we couldn’t even find a good feeling to push as hard as we wanted. This day we raised the height of the automobile and I managed to attack in every point,” explained Neuville.
“I knew I had to keep the vehicle to the street, however when the atmosphere is good you drive as quick as you can without taking big risks. ”
Evans was shellshocked. “The day started well but went downhill. It had been a surprise to lose so much in the last stage. Three or three seconds maybe, however, 16sec is really a hill. It had been a jolt but the ideal thing to do is forget about it and concentrate on tomorrow” he explained.
The Welshman, who headed after yesterday’s opening leg, was demoted by Tänak inside this morning’s final test but the margin between them was only 1.6sec when tragedy hit the Estonian.
Sébastien Ogier was 40.8sec adrift of Evans in next after a persistent drive. A raft of overnight varies improved his Citroën C-3 ’so handling. He still lacked pace but climbed from sixth this morning to reevaluate Dani Sordo at Castagniccia for a podium place.
The Finn was suffering from several smallish issues within his Fiesta this morning but closed your day with a 22.4sec margin on a disappointed Tänak.
Esapekka Lappi cut a frustrated figure through your day in his C3 since he searched for speed. He had been , ahead of Sébastien Loeb who struggled with understeer and lost more time afterwards sliding his I 20 to a ditch.
Yaris team-mates Kris Meeke and Jari-Matti Latvala completed the leaderboard, Latvala losing 2 minutes after quitting to change a wheel at the penultimate stage.
Sunday’s leg transports to the west shore near Calvi and may be the shortest of this rally. Drivers face just two stages covering 51.19km, culminating using the Wolf Power Stage in which bonus points will be given to the fastest five drivers.