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Evans puncture gifts Neuville win in Corsica

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Calvi (France) (AFP)

Thierry Neuville capitalised on leader Elfyn Evans's last stage misfortune to win the Rally of Corsica on Sunday and take command of the world championship standings.

Evans was en route for victory until his Ford Focus punctured in the closing kilometres to gift Neuville the win.

Neuville had emerged as leader in his Hyundai at the close of business on Saturday after Ott Tanak suffered a puncture in his Toyota on the middle day's 11th stage.

"It's difficult to accept but okay, it happens," Evans said at the finish. "A similar thing maybe happened to Ott yesterday. It's the nature of the sport."

At the end of 14 stages spread over three days on the isle of beauty the Belgian driver took the honours over 40 seconds clear of defending champion Sebastien Ogier.

Neuville went into the final day with a 4.4sec lead over Evans only for the Welshman to seize a slender lead in the penultimate stage before suffering the same fate as Tanak.

"I'm really disappointed for Elfyn, who did a really good job, but I think we deserved it as well," said Neuville "We were pushing all the time. Never give up!"

Evans ended up crossing the line in Calvi in third place, almost half a minute behind runner-up Ogier, with a front tyre in threads.

"I think it happened on a straight piece of road in the middle, a hole or a piece or stone that had lifted," Evans said.

"I felt it straightaway. Very unexpected. I tried to drive on it to see if we could minimise the time loss but it started to delaminate 6km before the end. At least we have the podium but it's not what I wanted."

Neuville leads the drivers' championship on 82 points, two clear of Ogier with Tanak three points adrift in third ahead of the season's fifth rally in Argentina at the end of next month.

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