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Ogier capitalises on rivals' misfortune for milestone Croatia Rally win

By AFP

April 21, 2024 06:19 PM


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Sebastien Ogier claimed the Rally of Croatia honours in Zagreb on Sunday after capitalising on mistakes by his two closest rivals for his 100th career podium.

The eight-time former world champion went into the final day lagging just under a dozen seconds behind Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans.

But Toyota's French driver was gifted the lead with two stages to go after both Hyundai's Neuville and his Toyota teammate Evans went off the road in stage 18.

Neuville ran wide on a left corner, hitting a tree and causing extensive damage to his car after losing over 20sec.

"There were a lot of corners, and when I got the pace note, it was far too late. It's a shame because everything was going so well" lamented Belgium's Neuville who posted the quickest time in nine of the rally's stages and retains the championship lead by six points from Evans.

"It is what it is. Great few days but unfortunately today didn't go well.

"We had wanted to push hard in the (closing) power stage but without the rear wing it's undriveable," he added.

Evans then spun his car on a right-handed turn, the Welshman losing around 20sec as he tried to get back underway.

Ogier tied up his first win of the 2024 season -- his 59th in all -- in which he is only competing part-time by 9.7sec from Evans, with Neuville a further 36sec away in third.

Ogier said 100 was "a nice number so happy with that for sure".

"We never gave up and kept the pressure on for the whole weekend.

"I've never had so many moments in one rally. It's good to get the win for the team.

"Who would have thought (100 podium finishes) 15 years ago? Nice to see that we still have some speed."

Evans, who won in Croatia last year, reflected: "It's a feeling of disappointment with the spin and the tyre choice.

"It's not ideal but you have to be in it to try. It's been a good weekend but disappointed with today."

The WRC season continues with its fifth round in Portugal starting on May 9.


AFP


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