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WRC Catalunya: Meeke closes on victory as Neuville retires

Kris Meeke Rally Spain Citroen 2017

Citroen's Kris Meeke closed in on Rally Spain victory over the three stage Sunday morning loop, as Thierry Neuville's title challenge unravelled further with retirement.

Meeke was quickest through all three of the stages, most impressively on the second stage of the loop SS15 Riudecanyes.

At the infamous Coll de la Teixeta roundabout where drivers do a donut as part of a stage for watching spectators, his Citroen stuttered exiting the roundabout, costing him what he reckoned to be four seconds.

He extended his lead from overnight to 23.9s at the end of the loop.

Neuville collected a rock on the last stage of the loop, forcing him to retire putting a huge dent in his championship hopes.

He started the event 17 points behind Sebastien Ogier, and won't score here with two further events remaining.

Neuville's team-mates Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen both retired after also hitting rocks, on Saturday.

Behind Meeke the M-Sport battle rages between Ogier and Ott Tanak, with the former ahead by 1.8s with three stages to go and Tanak rounds out the podium spots.

Both can win the title, and were boosted by Neuville's issues, as were M-Sport who are likely to add to their manufacturers' championship lead with the three Hyundais out.

Toyota driver Juho Hanninen's rapid pace on Saturday morning means his fourth place is safe, 1m24.2s clear of Ostberg in fifth.

Stephane Lefebvre upped his pace, but also benefitted from Hanninen's team-mate Esapekka Lappi crashing on SS15, handing him a net sixth with Neuville still on the timing screens but no longer able to continue.

Elfyn Evans struggled with the turn in after some radical setup changes aboard his DMACK Ford Fiesta, and he's the last 2017 WRC car in the top 10 in a net seventh.

M-Sport Fiesta R5 driver Teemu Suninen continues to lead the WRC2 class. He sits eighth overall, 36.7s ahead of class rival Ole Christian Veiby's Skoda Fabia R5.

Leading positions after SS16

PosDriverTeamCarGap
1Kris Meeke, P.NagleCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRTCitroen2h38m51.7s
2Sebastien Ogier, J.IngrassiaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord23.9s
3Ott Tanak, M.JarveojaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord25.7s
4Juho Hanninen, K.LindstromToyota Gazoo Racing WRCToyota42.8s
5Mads Ostberg, T.EriksenM-Sport World Rally TeamFord2m07.0s
6Thierry Neuville, N.GilsoulHyundai MotorsportHyundai2m12.1s
7Stephane Lefebvre, G.MoreauCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRTCitroen2m23.0s
8Elfyn Evans, D.BarrittM-Sport World Rally TeamFord3m59.3s
9Teemu Suninen, M.MarkkulaM-Sport World Rally TeamFord7m22.8s
10Ole-Christian Veiby, S.R.SkjaermoenPrintsportSkoda7m59.5s
11Jan Kopecky, P.DreslerSkoda Motorsport IISkoda8m00.5s
12Pierre-Louis Loubet, V.LandaisFord10m26.4s
13Benito Guerra, D.CueMotorsport ItaliaSkoda11m27.5s
14Eric Camilli, B.VeillasM-Sport World Rally TeamFord11m38.0s
15Juuso Nordgren, T.SuominenSkoda Motorsport IISkoda12m13.2s
16Simone Tempestini, G.BernacchiniGekon racingCitroen12m19.6s
17Khalid Al-Qassimi, C.PattersonCitroen Total Abu Dhabi WRTCitroen13m39.7s
18Lukasz Pieniążek, P.MazurTRT Peugeot WRTPeugeot14m18.7s
19Dani Sordo, M.MartiHyundai MotorsportHyundai14m19.5s
20Cristian Garcia, P.MarcosFord15m03.8s
21Andreas Mikkelsen, A.JagerHyundai MotorsportHyundai15m18.8s
22Orhan Avcioglu, B.KorkmazToksport WRTSkoda16m24.2s
23Jeremie Toedtli, A.PaqueSkoda17m26.4s
24Jon Armstrong, N.O'SullivanDrive DmackFord20m20.3s
25Valeriy Gorban, S.LarensEurolamp WRTMini21m02.4s
26Jean-Michel Raoux, L.MagatCitroen21m15.8s
27Yoann Bonato, B.BoulloudCitroen23m05.1s
28Nil Solans, M.A.IbanezFord23m38.8s
29Eamonn Boland, M.MorrisseyFord23m49.9s
30Raphael Astier, F.VauclarePeugeot24m43.5s
31Terry Folb, C.GuieuFord25m20.0s
32Jose Luis Pelaez, R.Del BarrioRMC MotorsportFord28m19.7s
33Julius Tannert, J.HeiglADAC SachsenFord28m25.3s
34Jourdan Serderidis, F.MiclotteCitroen29m13.4s
35Rhys Yates, A.LeeGemini Clinic Rally TeamFord30m56.6s
36Marcel Besoli, X.CarullaAndorra Auto ClubPeugeot31m59.9s
37Josep Anton Domenech, M.MarchalEscuderia GironellaCitroen35m45.4s
38Mats Andersson, J.JonssonOpel40m30.5s
39Dennis Radstrom, J.JohanssonFord42m24.6s
40Reiner Kuhn, E.KremerFord44m08.1s
41Nicolas Ciamin, T.de la HayeFord44m34.9s
42Jan Solans, M.BarreiroEscuderia Motor TerrassaFord46m25.8s
43Sergi Francoli Comellas, G.A.AdelantadoEscuderia Motor TerrassaPeugeot48m15.5s
44Gianluca Tavelli, N.CottelleroPeugeot48m20.0s
45Fabio Andolfi, S.ScattolinACI Team ItaliaHyundai52m33.6s
46Gus Greensmith, C.ParryFord52m35.5s
47Martin Navas, A.L.FernandezRMC MotorsportFord53m54.9s
48Pablo Suarez, I.PereiraEscuderia AteruraPeugeot53m58.1s
49Marc Paradell, X.Q.MilanMotor Club SabadellPeugeot54m02.6s
50Philippe Gomez, S.MollarPeugeot56m32.5s
51Enric Sans, J.VenceslaoEscuderia Motor TerrassaPeugeot1h07m16.4s
52Zihara Esteban, A.S.GonzalezGC MotorsportPeugeot1h10m04.3s
53Joan Font, E.VelascoPCR SportMitsubishi1h12m11.0s
54Takamoto Katsuta, M.SalminenTommi Makinen RacingFord1h14m46.4s
55Felix Macias, M.AlvarezTeam RepautoSubaru1h19m05.2s
56Joao Fernando Ramos, J.M.CarvalhoRMC MotorsportFord1h44m17.1s


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