Thursday | 15 Apr 2021

Wydaeghe’s French lessons paying-off for Neuville

Thierry Neuville heads into next week’s Croatia Rally (22 - 25 April) with ever-improving confidence after co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe has continued weekly French lessons to enhance his pace note delivery.

The pair scored their second Croatia warm-up win in Italy last weekend. Sunday’s victory in Sanremo in a Hyundai i20 World Rally Car came on the back of Rally Il Ciocco e Valle del Serchio success aboard an i20 R5 last month.

Much as Neuville was pleased with victory in Sanremo, he was even happier with the improving relationship with Wydaeghe.

The pair had communication problems in the opening two FIA World Rally Championship rounds after being thrust together at short notice the week before the start of the season when Neuville split with long-term co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul.

Wydaeghe aims for top marks in French class

Wydaeghe aims for top marks in ...

Co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe has signed up for French lessons to improve his pace note delivery alongside Thierry Neuville.

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Wydaeghe hails from the Flanders region of north-west Belgium where Flemish is the native language. He reads the notes in French to Neuville, who grew up in the Wallonia region on the opposite side of Belgium, where German and French are spoken.

“That rally [Sanremo] was really good,” Neuville said. “I felt really comfortable to push in the afternoon. We had lots of changes in the weather and lots of information in the notes, but Martijn did a really good job.

“From the French side, he’s improving all the time. He’s taking lessons every week and so it’s better on every rally.”

Neuville admitted next week’s Zagreb-based all-asphalt event would provide a stern challenge after third place finishes in the opening rounds at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Arctic Rally Finland.

Video: Croatia Rally

“It’s harder on Tarmac,” he said. “There’s more information to deliver, especially with the gravel crew information coming as well.

“But in Sanremo we had one stage which was a nightmare for the co-driver, just so many notes to read, but he managed very well. I know Croatia will be tough, but I’m very confident Martijn will be on top of it.”

• Full coverage from the Croatia Rally will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.