BASTIA, Corsica (AP) Belgian driver Thierry Neuville extended his overnight lead to comfortably win the Tour of Corsica rally on Sunday, with world champion Sebastien Ogier finishing nearly one minute behind in second place.
Neuville became the fourth driver to win in as many races this season, suggesting an unpredictable campaign to come after years of dominance from Ogier and his predecessor Sebastien Loeb.
Neuville had won three of Saturday’s four stages to lead Ogier by 38.9 seconds overnight and padded out that advantage to win by 54.7. Spaniard Dani Sordo was 56 behind Neuville in third.
Sunday’s ninth and penultimate stage – a long 54-kilometer (33-mile) trek from Antisanti to Poggio di Nazza – gave Ogier an opportunity to close the gap on Neuville.
Instead, he lost more time due to an electrical problem, finishing in seventh. Neuville won stage 9 to extend his lead, while Sordo leapfrogged Ogier.
Neuville was in a comfortable position heading into the 10th and final special of the race, and did not need to push hard over the 10.4-kilometer (6.5-mile) power stage from Porto-Vecchio to Palombaggia offering five bonus points.
Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala narrowly won it ahead of Ogier, who moved back in front of Sordo.
Overall, it was a frustrating race for Ogier, who left Volkswagen to drive the Ford Fiesta for M-Sport this season. Even though he won the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally, he is still getting accustomed to the car.
Ogier has won the past four world titles and is looking to become only the second driver to win five. Countryman Loeb holds the record with nine, all won consecutively.