Welsh WRC drivers scrum down with Rugby World Cup stars
Show of Welsh strength before the country's two biggest sporting events
The 24-year-old Belgian will compete in the fifth round of Germany’s ADAC Opel Rallye Cup, hoping to enhance his title bid after a win and second place see him in second position with three rounds remaining.
The cup runs behind the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship and tackles all but one stage of the headline event, in which Thierry defends the crown after a dramatic maiden victory last year in his Hyundai i20.
Yannick has clear ambitions to follow Thierry into the WRC but knows the path to the top is fraught with difficulties.
“My goal is to follow in Thierry’s footsteps but I know it’s going to be a long, hard journey. To reach the top you need luck and have the right people supporting you. The first step is to try to win the cup this year and then see where I can go forward,” he told wrc.com.
“My first aim is to finish the rally, but if I can go with the pace of the others then I’ll push for the win,” added Yannick, who will drive an Opel Adam.
He recognises the support Thierry has provided. “Thierry has helped me from the first day to improve. I don’t follow all his advice because I have my own ideas, but he’s helped me a lot with my development. He’s a big influence,” said Yannick.
The elder Neuville sees plenty of ability in his sibling. “He has potential, yes, but I’ve been quite straight with him about how difficult it is to reach the top.
“But there are interesting programmes in Germany with ADAC and Opel, and even other trophies in which you can participate so you can at least have the chance to grow step by step,” said Thierry.
Although they have never competed together, the Neuvilles have sat alongside each other in testing and both recall an incident when Thierry was preparing for ADAC Rally Deutschland in 2013 with M-Sport.
“It was an endurance test for the brakes and it was planned to do about 40km,” said Yannick. “But in the first lap we had a small accident and damaged the rear suspension. We couldn’t continue and had to stop the test.”
So was it Yannick’s co-driving or Thierry’s driving skills that were at fault? “Probably my driving!” laughed Thierry.
Photographs by ADAC Motorsport.