Hyundai boss Michel Nandan believes Thierry Neuville’s Rally Italia Sardegna victory last weekend was the reward for a more mature attitude from the Belgian.
Before his success on the Mediterranean island, third place in the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo was Neuville’s only podium in the previous 12 months as he was unable to follow-up his breakthrough victory in Germany in 2014.
Neuville’s relations with his Hyundai team became strained last season but Nandan said a fresh approach to his event preparations this year finally paid dividends in Italy.
“Thierry was always a fast guy, that has never changed. Now he is probably working more, he’s more concentrated and maybe more focused. I have the feeling he is more able to handle his speed on stages and has also improved his pace notes,” Nandan told wrc.com.
“It’s been like this since the beginning of this season. It’s true he’s had some mechanical issues which were not really his fault and in Argentina he admitted to a mistake in his pace notes and went off. That can happen, especially when you’re fighting.
“He’s changed his way of taking pace notes and learning the stages. He was always working on that but I think he’s improved this. His approach is more mature,” he added.
Minor set-up changes to the dampers and differentials over the last two rounds have increased Neuville’s confidence with the i20, and Nandan believes this is significant.
“Everything is in the head. You need to have confidence in the car otherwise you can’t go fast. We made a few changes to make him feel more confident, finding a set-up which suits his way of driving.
“Even if sometimes it’s not really the way he wants to drive, he can adapt to a way that suits him,” added Nandan.