Championship leader Tanak's puncture hands Neuville edge in Corsica

Bastia (France) (AFP) –


World championship leader Ott Tanak suffered a puncture in his Toyota on Saturday which allowed Thierry Neuville to emerge as the new leader of the Rally of Corsica.

Tanak came unstuck on the day's penultimate stage when he needed the best part of two minutes changing the damaged tyre on his vehicle.

That briefly opened the door for Elfyn Evans in a Ford Focus but the Welshman then surrendered the lead in the last stage to Hyundai's Neuville who will take a 4.5sec lead into Sunday's concluding day after claiming Saturday's last two stages.

"I think we managed quite well today. Even if in the morning we couldn't find a good feeling to push as hard as we wanted. But in the afternoon I was very confident in the car and was able to push in every stage. For tomorrow the same -- repeat," said Neuville.

Evans was left to lament giving up an 11-sec advantage ahead of the day's final stage, a marathon 47km run at Castagniccia.

"The afternoon started well but went downhill. It was a surprise to lose so much in the last stage. Three or four seconds maybe, but 16sec is a mountain," said the Welshman.

World champion Sebastien Ogier is third overall in his Citroen, almost 45sec off the lead.

French driver Ogier was four points behind Tanak in the overall world championship standings heading into the Corsica race.

Tanak finished Saturday in sixth place, 1min 54.5sec off Neuville's lead.

Standings after Saturday:

1. Thierry Neuville-Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL/Hyundai i20) 2:56:5.0, 2. Elfyn Evans-Scott Martin(GBR/Ford Fiesta) at 4.5 sec, 3. Sebastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia (FRA/Citroen C3) 44.8, 4. Dani Sordo-Carlos del Barrio (ESP/Hyundai i20) 49.9, 5. Teemu Suninen-Marko Salminen (FIN/Ford Fiesta) 1:32.1, 6. Ott Tanak-Martin Jarveoja (EST/Toyota Yaris) 1:54.5, 7. Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm (FIN/Citroën C3) 1:59.3, 8. Sebastien Loeb-Daniel Elena (FRA-Hyundai i20) 3:21.3, 9. Kris Meeke-Sebastien Marshall (GBR/Toyota Yaris) 3:55.9, 10. Jari-Matti Latvala-Mikka Anttila (FIN/Toyota Yaris) 6:35.4

Stage winners:

Elfyn Evans: (SS1, SS4, SS5), Thierry Neuville (SS6, SS11, SS12), Ott Tanak (SS3, SS7, SS8), Kris Meeke (SS2, SS10), Dani Sordo (SS9).