Monday | 02 Aug 2021

Neuville: “I think I could be the favourite”

Thierry Neuville will receive a hero’s welcome when he arrives in his Belgian homeland for the next round of the World Rally Championship – but that admiration comes with expectation.

Neuville has competed at the Renties Ypres Rally Belgium seven times before, most importantly in 2019, when he drove a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. He is the only person on the entry list to have driven a current World Rally Car on those roads.

Two years ago – the event didn’t run last year due to the coronavirus pandemic – Neuville won the Ypres Rally Masters, an event designed for current World Rally Cars and non-homologated cars of the past. Across a 143-kilometre route, he beat fellow Belgian rally star and Group A Ford Escort Cosworth driver Paul Liataer by 8m39s.

“I think I could be the favourite,” Neuville said. “I have experience of the event – even in my younger years I was participating, but it’s still going to be a really challenging event to win. The weather, I think we can still expect it to be mainly dry in August, but it can be mixed and if it is wet then running third on the road is not the best place.”

Memorable Belgian moments in the WRC

Beyond the potentially changeable conditions, the crews will also face a different itinerary for Renties Ypres Rally Belgium.

Shakedown runs on Friday morning, with the opening stage timed for 1:36pm on Friday. Friday’s eighth and final day one test starts at 8:48pm. Saturday runs to a more traditional format, while Sunday takes the crews on a 300-kilometre liaison section to Spa Francorchamps for what’s set to be a fascinating final day at one of the world’s most iconic race circuits.

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