Friday | 23 Jul 2021

Neuville: ‘I’m still in the title fight’

Rally Estonia podium finisher Thierry Neuville said last weekend’s Tartu event was mission accomplished in terms of his FIA World Rally Championship aspirations.

While he remains 52 points adrift of leader Sébastien Ogier with five rounds remaining, third overall and second-placed Wolf Power Stage points allowed him to narrow the gap to the Frenchman and Elfyn Evans – the two drivers ahead in the race for this year’s crown.

“My main target was to finish ahead of Sébastien and Elfyn and I’m pretty much still in the fight for the championship,” said the Hyundai Motorsport driver.

“I am the one with the less challenges and everything is still open and that’s why I wanted to fight hard this weekend and stay ahead of them.”

Video: Rally Estonia review

The Belgian admitted the super-fast Baltic roads weren’t always comfortable for him and the i20 World Rally Car.

He added: “We knew coming here that it’s going to be a tough weekend for us. I have never been the bravest on such fast rallies where taking risks is a major part of the race.

“Unfortunately, things didn’t start so well with a puncture in one of the first stages, which cost me 15sec, more or less. But I was able to fight back hard on Saturday and as well today [Sunday], increasing continuously the gap to Ogier and taking more Power Stage points than both of them.”

Neuville added that, while the gap narrowed to Ogier after problems with his i20’s starter motor through the final day of the seventh round, he still felt in control of the battle with the seven-time world champion. He eventually finished 11.6sec clear.