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Hyundai Motorsport has extended its lead in Rally Italia Sardegna, the sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with Thierry Neuville holding a 16.1s advantage over second-placed Jari-Matti Latvala at the end of Saturday’s six stages.

Neuville saw his lead reduced to under three seconds at the end of the morning loop but fought back strongly in the afternoon, taking two stage wins. On another solid day for Dani Sordo, the Spaniard moved into fourth place following retirements for Andreas Mikkelsen and Mads Østberg in the repeat loop.
Kevin Abbring started the day on a high, registering his first ever WRC stage win on SS10, but he endured a number of issues during the day, which limited his progress. He also finished second behind Neuville in SS 13 (Monti di Alá 2), securing Hyundai Motorsport a stage 1-2.
Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul (#20 New Generation i20 WRC) have been the crew to beat all weekend so far, and it’s been another impressive day for the Belgians. Today’s two stage wins takes their weekend tally to seven - almost 50% of all stages so far. Only four stages separate them from a second WRC win with Hyundai Motorsport.
Neuville commented: “It’s been another fantastic day for Nicolas and me. The New Generation i20 WRC has been great to drive on the stages this afternoon, and it’s great to extend our lead to 16.1s. The morning loop did not go as smoothly as yesterday and I didn’t feel as comfortable; we couldn’t find the same rhythm particularly in the narrower sections. I had to take extra care to avoid making a mistake but the feeling in the afternoon was much better and we could push. It is a pleasure to be involved in this thrilling battle with Jari-Matti, and we have to see what tomorrow brings. It will be a tough fight but we’re up for it.”
Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí (#4 New Generation i20 WRC) have concentrated on staying out of trouble on today’s stages, getting the best out of their car and themselves. It is a strategy that has paid off for the Spaniards as they have moved up two positions to fourth heading into the final day.
Sordo commented: “We have had another generally trouble-free day. We have just focused on our own rally, keeping each stage clean and getting the best we can out of the New Generation i20 WRC. We struggled for grip in some stages but we found things improving in the afternoon loop. We had some rain in SS14 (Coiluna-Loelle 2), which made things a bit tricky and then, in the final stage (Monte Lerno 2), we experienced a throttle issue so we had to take things a bit easier. We got past Mads for fourth place so we could afford to take more care and just make sure we completed the stage safely. We have four more stages tomorrow on which to secure fourth place, and important points for the team.” 
Abbring (#10 Hyundai i20 WRC) and co-driver Seb Marshall were looking to bounce back after a tough Friday - and in what style! The young Dutchman and his British co-driver took a wonderful stage win in SS10 (Monti di Alá), their first in WRC. Unfortunately a slow puncture at the end of the morning loop, and gearbox issues in the afternoon meant they had to nurse their car back to service.
Abbring commented: “I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the day than taking our first ever WRC stage win. What a special feeling. Unfortunately, our luck was not to last as we had a few issues during the day. We lost some time in the final morning stage with a puncture, but we were back on it in the afternoon. We set the second best time in the repeat of Monti di Alá but in the next stage we hit a stone, which damaged the gearbox. We were leaking oil from the car so the team advised us to take it easy and get back to service. We’ve learned a lot today, and the stage win is a very positive memory to take forward to the final day.”
Hyundai Motorsport has been the pace-setting team for most of the Sardinia weekend with eight stage wins from 15. The team picked up another 1-2 stage result and has two cars inside the top-four with just four stages remaining. It promises to be a tense Sunday for the team, with a potential second win of the 2016 season in sight.

Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Thierry and Nicolas have had another great day. They have kept cool, calm and collected in all stages and did not let pressure get to them. When the lead was reduced to less than three seconds by lunchtime service, they just dug deep and worked on building up an even bigger gap in the afternoon loop. Full credit to them! They have victory in their sights but it will be a big battle tomorrow, and a tantalising one. Dani is on course for another strong points finish in fourth, and needs to maintain his consistent approach. What a morning for Kevin and Seb with their first stage win in WRC. Our congratulations go to them both on a fine achievement. Their pace was clear today but they had some issues, including a gearbox problem after they took a heavy knock on the penultimate stage. It’s all part of their learning curve; they are still in the rally and will hope for better fortune on the final day. For the team, we were aiming for the podium this weekend but with Thierry holding a very defendable lead, who knows what Sunday will bring...”
Four stages remain on Sunday with Cala Flumini and Sassari-Argentiera run twice over a distance of 40.26km. The final run through Sassari-Argentiera will act as the Power Stage.
Overall Classification after Day Two
    1    T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) 3:07:35.2
    2    J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +16.1
    3    S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:15.0
    4    D. Sordo / M. Marti (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +2:19.2
    5    O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:50.6
    6    H. Solberg / I. Minor (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:32.4
    7    E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +5:38.5
    8    M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +11:14.0
    9    K. Kruuda / M. Jarveoja (Ford Fiesta R5) +11:35.3
    10    M Prokop / J. Tomanek (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +12:33.1
    17.   K. Abbring / S. Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +22:23.2

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