To start the entire L&T Motorsport team would like to offer our condolences to the friends and family of the spectator who tragically passed away on the first stage on Thursday.
A Dreadful Beginning
The 2017 WRC season got underway on Thursday evening with the first stage. This stage was however cancelled midway following an accident of Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon. Paddon had crashed viciously to the side of the mountain, which led into one spectator suffering fatal injuries and passing away as the paramedics were called. This was shocking news to everyone following the sport and to honor the memory of the spectator, Hyundai announced they were retiring Paddon’s car from the rally. A respectable decision by the team although it is unclear if Paddon had psychologically been able to continue. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville led the pack after Thursday having been the only one alongside Sébastien Ogier to complete both stages as SS1 was cancelled due to Hayden Paddon’s accident.
Neuville picks up the pace on Friday
Friday didn’t begin well for M-Sport’s Sébastien Ogier as he went off on the first stage of the day. Due to this slid off the Frenchman was now over 70 seconds behind the leader Neuville and lost his place to Citroen’s Kris Meeke and his M-Sport teammate Ott Tänak. Friday’s master Neuville was able to resist the attacks of Meeke and Tänak. Meanwhile, the newcomer Toyota had a mixed day. Juho Hänninen had shown great pace on Thursday but hit a tree and retired on Friday. His teammate Latvala was able to take Hänninen’s place on the board. Toyota showing good pace is promising for the future.
Meeke broke the suspension of his car and was forced to retire for the day. This meant Tänak got the role of Neuville’s number one challenger before his teammate Ogier won the last two stages on Friday and blasted past the Estonian. Amidst all this place switching, Thierry Neuville had grown his lead from Thursday’s 8.5 seconds to 45.1 seconds over second placed Ogier.