Thierry Neuville has pledged that last week’s spectacular test crash will not affect his strategy for this week’s Corsica linea - Tour de Corse (5 - 8 April).
Neuville is bidding to repeat last season’s win, and claim a third victory on the Mediterranean island, but his one-day test last Wednesday ended abruptly when his Hyundai i20 plunged off the road into a shallow river.
Both Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul were unhurt and the Belgian driver promised there would be no lasting effects going into the season’s first pure asphalt fixture.
“We had an accident towards the end of the pre-event test but that won’t change our approach to this rally. We know it will be a close contest again, as there are many quick drivers,” he said.
“The long stages that are a particular characteristic of Corsica mean we have to keep focused at all times. It is a really demanding event for crews and teams but we’re determined to strengthen our position in both championships.”
Neuville lies four points behind leader Sébastien Ogier in the drivers’ standings and his Hyundai Shell Mobis squad heads an incredibly tight manufacturers’ championship by 12 points. Just 17 points cover the four teams after three rounds.
Team principal Michel Nandan is under no illusions about the challenge in Corsica, affectionately termed the ‘Rally of 10,000 Corners’ in reference to its constant twists and turns on narrow mountain roads.
“Tour de Corse will be another tough and close battle. The fight for the championship is tighter than ever this year and we’ve seen how quickly things can turn around. Our ultimate goal is to consolidate our lead in the championship, but we know the opposition will have other ideas,” he said.
Team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo were unaffected by Neuville’s crash, having tested previously.