Thierry Neuville has described his victory at the Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse as “an important result” because it banished some painful memories that have haunted him since the start of the 2017 season.
A frustrating first day on Corsica’s asphalt roads was followed by an impressive turnaround in performance on days two and three for Neuville and he guided his Hyundai i20 to a comfortable 54.7sec victory over world champion Sébastien Ogier.
But Neuville admitted the disastrous pair of late mishaps he suffered when he was leading comfortably at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally Sweden earlier this season were preying on his mind as the Tour de Corse drew to its conclusion.
He surrendered his lead at the end of day two in Monte-Carlo when he broke the rear suspension on his car and it was a similar outcome a month later in Sweden when he lost a front wheel after going off the road in the short Karlstad super special.
“We almost won twice before this season but we didn’t. I said to myself that we’ve retired twice before and it cannot happen three times in a row. I said to myself that everything will work and finally we managed quite well,” Neuville explained.
“I think it’s the first time I had tears in my eyes after crossing a finish line. I’m not very emotional, but this time I knew it was an important result for us.”
Neuville will be hoping his first win of the season enables him to mount a serious title charge in an i20 that, despite a slower than expected start in Corsica, he believes has shown impressive performance so far this season.
He said: “This weekend I was expecting a lot because I knew on asphalt we were fast and I had a feeling the car was fast as well from testing. But the rally didn’t start at all like we were expecting.
“The feeling was good, I had the feeling I was driving well and we were going fast. But the times were not right, not bad, but still not where we wanted.
“So, we reacted to it by working on the car. The roads were different on day two as well which gave us the opportunity to show the full potential of the car on different types of roads and score the victory here. It’s an amazing feeling.”