Neuville steered his Hyundai i20 into third place at Rally Italia Sardegna and bagged maximum bonus points from the final Aglientu – Santa Teresa speed test.
Having retired early from the previous round in Portugal, the podium was welcome for both him and the Korean manufacturer, but he struggled to equal the pace of Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans’ Toyota Yaris cars ahead.
“I was too slow on the first day,” said Neuville. “I couldn’t get a good feeling with the car and I couldn’t match the speed at the front. I worked with the car and things got better – especially in the second pass of the stages, where I felt I had more grip. But it was a difficult weekend.
“Something was a little bit missing this weekend and that’s what we needed to really fight. I tried to push to fight with Elfyn, but it wasn’t such a good feeling.
Video: Rally Italia Sardegna highlights
“We had the same differentials like we had in Portugal (because of transmission-linked events) which were maybe not perfect. You know, it’s just a few tenths here and there, but by the end of the stage they have all added up.
“Taking the five points in the Power Stage is really the only satisfaction I can take from the weekend.”
Third in Olbia and Neuville’s Wolf Power Stage win ensured he took two points more than second-placed Evans, narrowing the gap to the Welshman ahead of Safari Rally Kenya (24 - 27 June).
Neuville lies third in the table, 29 points behind Ogier and 18 down on Evans.