Neuville leads tragedy-hit Monte Carlo Rally


GAP, France: Hyundai’s Belgian driver Thierry Neuville held his overnight lead at the Monte Carlo Rally through Friday’s series of specials, a day after a spectator was killed when struck by a car.

Belgian driver Thierry Neuville and Belgian co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul take the start of the 85th Rallye of Monte-Carlo on Friday. AFP PHOTO

The 50-year-old Spanish fan was hit by the Hyundai driven by New Zealander Hayden Paddon as he took photos in a banned area.

Paddon’s car was withdrawn from the race by Hyundai as a mark of respect, said the team.

Neuville led after Thursday night’s abandoned special and started Friday poorly before clinching three straight specials to lead Ford’s Sebastien Ogier by 45 seconds.

Local resident and four-time world champion Ogier slid off the road and got stuck in a ditch early Friday losing 40 seconds as he needed a push from spectators to get his Ford Fiesta going.

But he rallied when the race ran through his own neighbourhood by winning the seventh and eighth specials.
Also in a Ford Fiesta, Ott Tanak sits third overall and the Estonian won the tricky, opening third special on icy roads in the morning.

Five further specials are scheduled on Friday near Gap in the French Alps.

Monte Carlo is the first leg of the 2017 world rally championship.



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