Neuville abandons Rally of Turkey to leave Ogier in the lead

Sébastien Ogier took the lead in the Rally of Turkey when Thierry Neuville abandoned the race. (AFP pic)

YEŞILBELDE: Championship leader Thierry Neuville dropped out of the Rally of Turkey on Saturday after breaking his suspension on the first special stage of the day.

The Belgian, who led Sébastien Ogier by 0.3 seconds overnight, was eight seconds faster than the Frenchman two-thirds of the way through the 34.24-kilometre eighth stage, but then the top mounting punched through the bonnet of his Hyundai, the World Rally Championship website reported. He limped on but crossed the line three minutes and 30 seconds behind.

Neuville, who leads Ogier by 23 points in the drivers’ standings, could rejoin the rally on Sunday in the hope of picking up some championship bonus points in the closing Power Stage.

“Something is broken. We didn’t hit anything. I don’t know, unlucky, really unlucky,” Neuville told the website.

“Despite trying to make some repairs on the car, @thierryneuville is unfortunately forced to retire after SS8 due to the suspension damage he picked up during the stage,” Hyundai tweeted.

That left Ogier 25.5 seconds ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen in a Hyundai but the Frenchman suffered mechanical problems of his own on the next stage, smashing his right wheel on his M-Sport Ford. He was forced to slow and finished seventh, 18 seconds behind Mikkelsen who won the stage.