Wednesday | 29 Jun 2022

Bonus points haul Neuville’s only solace

Stepping out of his Hyundai i20 N Rally1, Thierry Neuville shut the door and grimaced. Last weekend’s Safari Rally Kenya was an event he won’t forget for a long time.

There are far worse results than a top-five finish on a round of the FIA World Rally Championship but he was struggling to find the positives in Naivasha.

Last season Neuville posted a final-day retirement in Africa – but he had at least dominated proceedings for two days. This time round he was on the back foot from earlier in the rally, round six of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“You know the story,” he said. “There’s nothing to say. I am really disappointed with the result, not just for me, but for the mechanics. They are working really hard and getting nothing in return.”

As always seems to be the case right now, Neuville’s event was drama-packed, with the i20 N losing power after the air filter became packed with powder-like sand. Next there was a puncture before a final stage retirement in Saturday afternoon’s rain-soaked conditions.

Video: Safari Rally Kenya onboard of the rally

Neuville became stuck in the road when his engine stopped after ingesting water from a large puddle. After finally restarting the car, less than a kilometre further down the road a lack of visibility in the conditions caused him to hit a tree.

He restarted in Sunday’s final leg and, in the Belgian’s never-give-up style, he claimed maximum bonus points by winning the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage.

“We can see, with this time, that the car has the speed,” he added. “We know that. But also this is six events with trouble at some point.

“Somehow we need to take the positives and the Power Stage is saving our weekend a little bit. But also, it’s also making it frustrating.”

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