Neuville leads tight chase for Croatia Rally win

Street smart: Thierry Neuville stays in control of the Rally of <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Croatia;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Croatia</a> (DAMIR SENCAR)
Street smart: Thierry Neuville stays in control of the Rally of Croatia (DAMIR SENCAR)

World championship leader Thierry Neuville stayed on course for victory in the Rally of Croatia on Saturday but in a tight push for the line just under 12 seconds blanket the top three drivers.

Hyundai's Neuville goes into Sunday's finale with a narrow 4.9sec edge over Toyota's Elfyn Evans after the two title rivals were locked at the same time on Friday night.

Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, in another Toyota, ended the day within 11.6sec of Neuville in third place.

"It's not a big lead, but we had a great day," said Neuville, now in his 10th season with Hyundai and who claimed victory in the season-opener in Monte Carlo.

"Despite a not perfect tyre choice this afternoon we were capable of defending our lead. We need to continue attacking and have a good tyre choice on Sunday. It wasn't easy when the weather wasn't very easy to judge."

Former world champion Ott Tanak was fourth, more than a minute off the lead in another Hyundai despite damaging a rear wheel when he ran wide and clipped a kerb.

Standings on Saturday:

1. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai): 2:09:46.0, 2. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota) at 4.9, 3. Sebastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (FRA/Toyota) 11.6, 4. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (EST/Hyundai) 1:15.5, 5. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (FRA/M-Sport Ford) 1:35.4