Neuville leads Rally Italy


Thierry Neuville leads the Rally Italy after Sebastien Ogier endured a frustrating day on the dusty tracks.

World Rally Championship leader Ogier held a 1.3 second advantage after the opening speed test on Thursday, but it was Neuville who came to the fore late in the afternoon a day later in his in his Hyundai i20.

The Belgian and Jari-Matti Latvala contested a pulsating dual in the heat and it was Neuville who came out on top, ensuring he will take an advantage of 11.1 seconds into the weekend.

Latvala and Ogier were vying for the lead before Neuville, who has registered points only twice in the first five rounds this season, took over as the leader in the final two stages of the day.

"I think everyone is happy to see us back in front," said Neuville. "I was helped by the cleaner roads in the morning, but in the afternoon we kept good pace and that increased our confidence.

"I hope we can continue in the same rhythm tomorrow. We had many issues at the end of last year and this year and it's well deserved."

Latvala had to settle for second place, with Ogier, who opted for soft compound tyres when temperatures were cooler in the morning, 40.3secs adrift of Neuville.