Neuville takes World Rally lead in Monte-Carlo


Thierry Neuville leads Rallye Monte-Carlo after Friday morning. Credit: Hyundai Motorsport

Hyundai Motorsport driver Thierry Neuville has taken the lead of the first round of the World Rally Championship, Rallye Monte-Carlo.

The Belgian began Friday morning in third, over 10 seconds behind rally leader Ott Tanak, but hauled himself into the lead on the morning’s first test after making a better tyre choice than his rivals. A second fastest time on the final stage of the loop consolidated his position after five of the rally’s 17 stages.

Defending champion Sebastien Ogier lies 3.4 seconds behind Neuville in second on his first rally for the Citroen team, ahead of Toyota driver Tanak who is down to third. The top three are separated by just 16.9 seconds.

Nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb is impressing on his return to the sport, and lies fourth for Hyundai ahead of team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen and Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala.

Esapekka Lappi began the morning in fourth but has slipped to seventh in his Citroen C3, while Welshman Elfyn Evans leads the M-Sport Ford charge in eighth.

Fellow Brit Kris Meeke lies ninth on his first rally with Toyota after struggling with a lower start position on the road, while Pontus Tidemand completes the top 10 in his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.

Teemu Suninen has begun his recovery drive after crashing out of last night’s icy test, climbing within the top 30 in his Ford Fiesta.

British driver Gus Greensmith leads the WRC2 Pro support category for M-Sport. Chesterfield’s Rhys Yates is sixth in class and 20th overall in his Skoda Fabia R5.

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