Neuville given time back due to Latvala delay

Neuville given time back due to Latvala delay
By AutoSport

19/05/2017 at 23:17Updated

Rally of Portugal officials have awarded Thierry Neuville 11.6 seconds back after the Belgian was held up behind Jari-Matti Latvala's ailing Toyota on Friday's final gravel stage.

The decision elevates Neuville from sixth to fourth but is a smaller adjustment than he had initially called for.

A furious Neuville ended the Ponte de Lima stage 19.1s slower than Dani Sordo's benchmark time, which he felt was an unfair consequence of having to follow in Latvala's dust as the Toyota rejoined after rolling.

"It was so bad. Really bad," said Neuville, who is aiming for a World Rally Championship hat-trick in Portugal after wins on the previous two rounds in Corsica and Argentina.

"I was behind him, stuck behind him for a long time, more than five kilometres.

"I was almost going off the road three times trying to past him.

"He was driving more slowly than my grandmother!

"I don't know why he continued."

Latvala admitted he had been aware that Neuville would be catching his Yaris WRC, which had suffered power loss caused by a flattened exhaust from his crash, but insisted he had done his best not to delay the Hyundai.

"I pulled over as soon as I got the call from the team to say he was there," said Latvala.

After viewing the onboards from Neuville's car, the stewards' decision stated:

"Having received a request from competitor #5 to consider the allocation of a new time for SS7, when they were delayed by competitor #10 who had an incident during the stage and was running at a low speed.

"Having examined the time set by competitor #5 in SS4 and his split times in SS7, after due consideration decided to correct the time to 19m27.7s."

That decision moves Neuville up two places to an overnight fourth, at Craig Breen and Elfyn Evans's expense.

He now starts Saturday 11.1s behind leader Ott Tanak.