Thierry Neuville has vowed to move on from a troubled run of WRC results and focus on sealing a maiden world title with victory at the final two rounds.
Neuville’s championship bid has stuttered during the second half of the season. After heading to Finland in July with a 27-point lead over Sébastien Ogier, his advantage was cut to seven in Britain last weekend.
He finished ninth in Finland, relied on Power Stage bonus points to keep his tally tricking over in Turkey and scrambled up the order to fifth at Dayinsure Wales Rally GB after dropping his Hyundai i20 into a ditch.
Second in Germany was his only podium since back-to-back victories in Portugal and Italy, but that was only secured after team-mate Dani Sordo and Jari-Matti Latvala retired on the final morning.
Neuville saved his weekend in Britain by climbing three places in three stages on Sunday and the 30-year-old Belgian acknowledged the destiny of the 2018 crown remains in his control with rounds in Spain and Australia remaining.
“I’d rather have a bigger lead than we have now, but we can’t dwell on what’s happened in recent rallies. We have to pick ourselves up and fight for overall victory in the final two rounds. It’s in our hands,” he said.
“We gave it everything last weekend. The mistake on Saturday ended any chance of scoring a podium but we’ve pushed hard to reclaim a few lost positions. The championship is far from over.”
Hyundai’s manufacturers’ title challenge also took a knock as a double podium for Toyota Gazoo Racing, courtesy of Latvala and Esapekka Lappi, extended its lead to 20 points.
Team principal Michel Nandan accepted his squad faced an uphill battle to regain top spot.
“We failed to get the correct set-up of the cars for this event. We made improvements during Friday afternoon and things were better by Saturday, but with Thierry’s issue we were too far behind,” he said.
“We have to accept the result, learn from the experience and move on. We’ve allowed ourselves to fall behind in the championship and now have just two rallies remaining this season from which we can bounce back.”