Friday | 05 Feb 2021

Neuville: ‘Title would mean more by beating Ogier’

Thierry Neuville is more determined than ever to turn silver into gold in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship – while seven-time champion Sébastien Ogier is still around.

The 32-year-old has finished runner-up five times in the drivers’ championship and admits he has everything he needs to make a title challenge stick in 2021.

Ogier’s retirement at the end of this season makes it even more important for the Belgian to win this time around.

“I’ve been chasing it for a couple of years. I feel we have the team and the car to do it, so it’s up to us now,” said the Hyundai Motorsport driver.

“I still want to win the title when Sébastien is still in the championship – it’s most important for us to fight against the best. If Ogier is gone then one of the best is gone.

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“Of course, there are other good drivers still in the championship, but for personal pleasure it would be more valuable if I could win when Sébastien is there. This is why we want to keep him with us – everybody wants to keep the best in the championship.”

By his own admission, the loss of long-time co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul on the eve of the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo was far from ideal and a podium with new navigator Martijn Wydaeghe in the French Alps was the best he could hope for.

Looking ahead, Neuville is delighted to see his home country arrive on the calendar in the form of Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (13 - 15 August) as the ninth round on the calendar.

This year it’s still an exciting calendar ahead, with a couple of new events as well. We have new locations, new challenges ahead, which I’m really looking forward to,” he added.

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