Teetotal Thierry Neuville owes his Rally Mexico podium to the bottle of beer he was given at the celebrations after the rally-closing Power Stage.
Instead of spraying the maxi-sized bottle presented by rally sponsor Corona, Neuville, who currently doesn’t touch alcohol, put it in his Hyundai i20 to take back to his team.
But when a radiator leak drained his car’s cooling system on the 33km journey back to service, the beer came to his rescue.
“We had driven maybe three or four kilometres of the road section when I saw the engine temperature was very high, that’s when I realised we had a problem. It was very stressful,” Neuville told wrc.com.
Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul pulled over and removed the i20’s front bumper to get better access while they plugged the hole.
“We were able to fix it quite quickly but to refill the system we made use of everything we had in the car, luckily we got some beer at the end of the Power Stage and we used it.”
The pair stopped again a few kilometres later to top-up the system with more Mexican lager.
“I really tried to stay calm and say to myself we were okay, but when we had more than 25km to go I thought okay, maybe this could be the end. But after we stopped again the temperature came down and then I thought it would be okay.”
Their next stop was when they arrived, on time, at the finish to collect Hyundai’s first podium on only the team’s third rally. So would Neuville be breaking his self-imposed alcohol-ban tonight? “For the moment, no, but I can change my mind at anytime,” he laughed.