Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20) is fifth in the Rally of Sardinia after the first day, the fifth of twelve rounds in the world championship. The 32-year-old from Liège has 1:03.2 to make up for his Estonian teammate Ott Tänak. Spaniard Dani Sordo, also in a Hyundai, is second at 19.4, Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (Toyota Yaris) third at 36.2 and Briton Elfyn Evans (Toyota Yaris), at 1:02.0, is ahead of Neuville.
Tänak won the first five of eight classification stages, Sordo the next three, the last tied with Neuville. A third place in FP5 was Neuville’s best result until then. In the seventh FP, Neuville finished seventh despite a puncture, but lost a place in the standings.
“It was a difficult day,” Neuville said. “In the first two stages I wasn’t in the rhythm and after that I had some problems all day long, mainly two punctures, which fortunately didn’t cost me too much. The roads are really difficult. I do my best, but can only trust what I see. Surprises are popping up everywhere.”
Frenchman Adrien Fourmeaux and his Belgian co-driver Renaud Jamoul, who compete in the WRC2 with a Ford Fiesta, finished twelfth in the first special stage, third in their class, but went off track in the second and can forget a good final ranking .
There are also eight KP’s on the menu on Saturday, four on Sunday. Tänak can win the rally a second time. In 2017 he was already the best on the Italian island. Neuville won the rally in 2016 and 2018. World champion and World Cup leader Ogier won three in a row from 2013 to 2015, a feat Sordo can match this year.