WRC Safari Rally: Neuville maintains overall lead as Ogier makes ground

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NAIVASHA, KENYA - JUNE 23: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Martijn Wydaeghe of Belgium compete with their Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC during the Shakedown of the FIA World Rally Championship Kenya on June 23, 2021 in Naivasha, Kenya. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

Thierry Neuville maintained his overall lead in the 2021 WRC Safari Rally following an incident-free drive which spanned three stages early on Saturday.

Neuville won stage eight at Elementaita 1 in 9:01.4 while world champion Sebastien Ogier claimed stages nine (Soysambu 1) and ten (Sleeping Warrior 1) in 14:11.9 and 17:26.6 respectively.

FILE PHOTO: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Martijn Wydaeghe of Belgium compete with their Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC during the Shakedown of the FIA World Rally Championship Kenya on June 23, 2021 in Naivasha, Kenya. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

The Belgian’s exploits allowed him to stretch his overnight lead of 18.8 seconds to 28.1 seconds over second placed Takamoto Katsuta of Japan.

“It went okay. I had a clean run – a lot of stones are moving, so a couple of times I had to slow down. I had a clean stage and took it maybe a little bit too careful on the last part,” Neuville told the WRC media team.

Frenchman Ogier continued his resurgence in the event by winning two stages to see him maintain fourth place but narrow the gap between him and third placed Ott Tanak to 37.6 seconds. Ogier is now one minute and 33.8 seconds behind Neuville.

Briton Gus Greensmith is fifth and Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux is sixth while Onkar Rai is the highest-ranked Kenyan driver in eighth.

The action resumes at 2:05pm (local time) when stage 11 (SS11), Elementeita 2, gets underway.

More to follow…

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