Neuville: late push not enough

Thierry Neuville says he knew his final stage attack would not be enough to snatch a dramatic Rallye Monte-Carlo victory from Sébastien Ogier last weekend.

The Belgian started the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage only 0.4sec behind Ogier after a fierce battle throughout the four-day encounter in the French Alps.

He clawed back a 4.3sec deficit in the three previous final leg speed tests in the mountains above Monaco, but could not maintain his charge. He slipped to a 2.2sec defeat by the world champion, who celebrated a sixth consecutive Monte-Carlo success.

“The feeling ahead of the stage was really good and on the previous stage the car was working so well,” he said. “Towards the end of the stage I struggled with the brakes and crossing the line we knew probably this would not be enough.”

The Hyundai i20 driver acknowledged that a 20sec overshoot in Friday afternoon’s Valdrome - Sigottier test proved too much to overcome.

He drew comparisons with his thrilling win in Italy last year when he overturned a 0.8sec gap in the last stage to beat the Frenchman by 0.7sec.

“This time we found somebody stronger. If I remember back in Sardinia, we were able to win the challenge, but this time it was a bit more difficult. We closed the gap and put pressure on him, but the result is not what we wanted. But in the end, it is important points,” he said.

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