Belgian Neuville, 23, is contesting 12 rounds of this year’s world championship in a Citroen Junior World Rally Team-run DS3 WRC.
He was challenging for a top five finish at the end of the opening day in Portugal only to retire when the treacherous weather conditions took hold on Friday morning. He restarted on Saturday under Rally 2 regulations and reached the finish in Faro in ninth overall before being promoted to eighth when factory Citroen driver Mikko Hirvonen was excluded.
“Thierry made a mistake at the start of the rally, due to his lack of experience,” said Citroen Racing chief Yves Matton. “After rejoining under Rally 2, he showed impressive speed. We’re confident that he will continue to progress in the upcoming rallies.”
Of his exit on day two, Neuville said: “I was caught out going over a watersplash. There was at least 50 centimetres of water in a place which was dry during reconnaissance. The front of the car hit the water and the cooling system was damaged. We had to stop to prevent the engine from becoming damaged.”
“The last two days went well,” Neuville continued. “We used the first loop to check and confirm our pace notes, and then we pushed a bit harder on the second runs. That resulted in us setting some good times, among the top five. I hope that now I can complete a rally without having to rejoin under Rally 2 regulations whilst also remaining competitive.”