Rallying-Neuville leads in Sardinia after Ogier crashes out

FILE PHOTO: Rallying - World Rally Championship - Rally Sweden 2023 - Umea, Sweden - February 11, 2023 Thierry Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe of Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT in action Micke Fransson/TT News Agency via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Belgian Thierry Neuville will lead a Hyundai one-two into the final day of the Rally of Italy in Sardinia after Toyota's Sebastien Ogier crashed out on Saturday.

Neuville, who has yet to win this season, ended the penultimate day 36.4 seconds ahead of Finnish team mate Esapekka Lappi, who had started Saturday leading eight-times world champion Ogier by a mere tenth of a second.

"It is a fine line between pushing hard and keeping the car on the road, and we were able to stay just on that line," said the leader.

He won three of the four morning stages and took the lead on the wet penultimate stage 14 when Ogier, who had been 18.2 seconds clear at one point in the afternoon, left the road and retired.

Lappi then slowed when he saw Ogier go off, with the rain coming down hard.

"It would have been very easy to go off as well. The aquaplaning was crazy at some points but thankfully we had no big moments," said the Finn.

World championship leader Kalle Rovanpera was in third place for Toyota, but a minute and 50 seconds off the pace.

The rally is the sixth round of the season. Sunday features four stages, finishing with a Power stage with bonus points to be won.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Clare Fallon)

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