(Reuters) - World champion Sebastien Ogier and Belgian title rival Thierry Neuville were locked in a tight battle after the penultimate leg of the Rally of Italy in Sardinia on Saturday.
The French M-Sport Ford driver ended the 16th special stage with a lead of just 3.9 seconds over Hyundai’s championship leader.
“It is tight,” said Ogier after stage 16. “It was fun this afternoon. The second stage I didn’t find a good rhythm. On this one I had to push.”
Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala was in third place for Toyota, 48.9 seconds off the lead.
Neuville won the last two stages of the day, after losing time to a slow front-right puncture, while Ogier lost a couple of seconds in the afternoon with a start-line stall.
The Belgian leads Ogier by 19 points after six rounds.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon