Alghero - Belgium's Thierry Neuville threw caution to the
wind as he won the last six stages of the Rally of Italy on Sunday to overturn
a 6.8-second deficit and edge Frenchman Sebastian Ogier.
Neuville, driving a Hyundai, was still 0.7 seconds behind
Ogier (M-Sport Ford) entering the closing 6.96km Powerstage but gained 1.4 seconds
to finish the race 0.8 seconds ahead.
"I really gave it all this weekend," said
Neuville, who recorded an overall time of 3hr 29min 18.7sec as he increased his
lead at the top of the World Rally standings to 27 points over Ogier.
Ott Tanak (Toyota), who finished eighth, remains third
overall but is now 70 points back.
"We lost the battle, but clearly not the war: there are
six rallies left," Ogier said. "There are rallies in which Thierry
will be at a disadvantage."
The Frenchman's second place was almost put in danger
following a strange incident at the end of the penultimate stage when Ogier
drove off without his copilot collecting his time card. It was delivered to him
by former team-mate Tanak.
Race officials eventually allowed him to keep second place,
but hit him with a suspended points reduction and fined him $11 800.
Finn Esapekka Lappi (Toyota) finished third, 1:56.3 slower
than Neuville with New Zealander Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) fourth and Norwegian
Mads Ostberg (Citroen) fifth.