Thierry Neuville holds a 15.8sec advantage over Jan Kopecky after five stages of the Tour de Corse, having benefited from main rival Bryan Bouffier picking up a puncture just after taking the lead.
Highly rated Kronos Peugeot driver Neuville established an 8-second cushion over the field on yesterday's two stages, but then had a quick spin on today's opener, on which Guy Wilks and Bouffier were first and second fastest, bringing both much closer to the leader.
PH Peugeot's Bouffier then hit the front by winning SS4, while Wilks' challenge ended when he went off the road on the same stage. Bouffier soon hit trouble, too, his SS5 puncture costing him a minute and dropping him to sixth. Neuville therefore regained the lead, while Skoda trio Kopecky, Andreas Mikkelsen and Freddy Loix are in a close battle for second.
S2000 newcomer Pierre Campana runs in a praiseworthy fifth place, only 15 seconds away from Loix.
Leading positions after SS5:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Thierry Neuville Peugeot Belux (Kronos) 1h12m19.6s
2. Jan Kopecky Skoda + 15.8s
3. Andreas Mikkelsen Skoda UK + 18.5s
4. Freddy Loix BFO Skoda + 23.4s
5. Pierre Campana Munaretto Peugeot + 38.6s
6. Bryan Bouffier PH Peugeot + 1m00.4s
7. Toni Gardemeister TGS Skoda + 2m06.0s
8. Julian Maurin M-Sport Ford + 2m07.1s
9. Bruno Magalhaes Peugeot Portugal + 2m09.7s
10. Jean-Mathieu Leandri Peugeot + 2m58.2s