7/29/2017 11:06:57 PM

Injury dents Ogier title hopes, Lappi eyes maiden triumph

Injury dents Ogier title hopes, Lappi eyes maiden triumph

Jyvaskyla, Finland: Sebastien Ogier suffered a setback in his bid for a fifth successive world title when he was forced to sit out the rest of the Rally of Finland after co-driver Julien Ingrassia suffered head injuries in a crash.

Ogier and Ingrassia were both taken to hospital for tests after their Ford Fiesta went off the road following a collision with trees on the fourth stage on Friday.

On Saturday, medical officials signed off Ingrassia from racing for two weeks after being diagnosed with mild concussion.

The decision was then confirmed later in the day when Ingrassia underwent further tests.

"After new medical tests and with the next rally (in Germany from Aug 17-20) being very close, the team -- on the advice of the organisers -- decided that Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will not take any further part in the Rally of Finland," said Ogier's M-Sport team.

Ogier had been hoping to rejoin the race on Sunday's concluding four stages where valuable power-stage points will be up for grabs.

It would have been a crucial damage limitation exercise for the Frenchman who had led Thierry Neuville in the overall standings by just 11 points coming into the Finland race, the ninth event of the 13-round championship.

Belgian driver Neuville was sixth at the end of Saturday's action, 1min 31.6sec behind shock leader Esapekka Lappi, who remained on course for a maiden world championship win in just his fourth senior outing.

If Neuville remains in sixth place on Sunday, he would claim at least eight points, while 15 are to be awarded in the power stage.

"I don't know what's possible now, but the goal is the top five," said Neuville.

Lappi drove his Toyota to a 49.2sec lead over Finnish compatriot Teemu Suninen in an M-Sport Ford Focus and a 53.4sec advantage over teammate Juho Hänninen.

Britain's Elfyn Evans, in another Ford Focus, was fourth at 54.7sec off the pace.

Ogier wasn't the only title hopeful to suffer on Saturday.

Jari-Matti Latvala, in another Toyota Yaris, started the race in third place in the standings, albeit 48 points behind Ogier.

He suffered an electrical problem and retired for the day on the 19th stage having won the opening five stages and been consistently quicker than teammate Lappi.

"I am disappointed for Jari-Matti but it's not my fault if his car breaks down," said the 26-year-old.

"For the moment, I will make the most of it -- it's an incredible thing. Now I have to keep my head and a good speed on Sunday."

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