After a thrilling scrap with fellow Fiesta RS driver Mads Ostberg, that featured seven position switches, 25-year-old Neuville is now tied for second in the drivers’ world championship standings. Here’s what he had to say after the rally:
Q: Thierry, second position at Rally Finland - an incredible battle with a great result for you. Your season just keeps getting better!
TN: “I can only feel good. Nicolas [Gilsoul, co-driver] and me did a really good job. I had good confidence from the last few results and we were able to fight and go and see where is the maximum. We found a good rhythm between just driving and pushing. Sometimes in the ruts, you had to be careful not to puncture – we got one but we got through.
"This is only my second time [in Finland] and everybody says you need lots of experience but we did good preparation and we made good notes, which helped us to do a good result and have good pace.”
Q: When did you think a win was out of the question?
TN: “I was not thinking about the win. I knew Seb would be very strong and nearly impossible to beat. After the first day I could see he was not in such a good rhythm and it was going well for us… so I thought a podium was possible. But then Mads continued to push very quickly on Friday morning and he took 11 seconds and I knew then that we had to wake up.
"Once I was in the rhythm, then we were nearly always on the same stage time. I knew if I continue like this, I would stay out of trouble – but I had to push for the podium.”
Q: Before the second running of Ouninpohja you were just one-tenth of a second behind Ostberg, what were you thinking at that point?
TN: “On the start line I was a little nervous. I could see Mads going into the stage in front of me and he was very fast into the first corner. I could see he was pushing and I had no choice. We did it and we are here. It’s a shame he had the stone [in the road], I saw it as well. We had the same speed, but it went right for me.”
Q: Power Stage points as well - were you not nervous that you might make a mistake on the final stage?
TN: “I don’t know if Sebastien [Ogier] was on his maximum pace. I talked to Nicolas [Gilsoul, co-driver] and said that we would go slowly, but then on the first braking it felt good and we went well around this corner. So I continue to the first split, where we were down and I thought: “okay, two points…” But then Sebastien was down to me and at the end I had a good drive – three points. Now I am equal with Jari-Matti and I just need a victory to get past him.”
Q:Is a victory possible?
TN: “It’s possible, but I think Sebastien needs to be in trouble. I am really looking forward to the first tarmac event in Germany. I did it twice now, but I need to see how the Fiesta is working and if we can find good settings. If I do then it’s possible to fight with the Volkswagens and the Citroens.