Neuville’s relief at turnaround
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville admitted the Korean squad turned around what looked to be a ‘very bad’ result from Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Despite Sébastien Loeb and Dani Sordo falling out of contention with fuel-related problems on Friday’s third stage – issues which cost the Spaniard the rally lead – Hyundai remained top of the manufacturers’ table, albeit with a reduced 20-point advantage.
Neuville, who steadily climbed the leaderboard to finish runner-up, said: “The situation with second place for me and four points from the Wolf Power Stage is a good effort and we only lose nine points in the manufacturers’ race.
“It looked very bad on Friday, but the efforts we have done bring the necessary bonus from this rally.”
Team principal Andrea Adamo explained the problem on the two i20s, which was fixed at Friday’s lunchtime regroup, was within the fuel tank.
“The problem is that we did something we shouldn’t have done,” he said. “We modified the parts in the fuel tank on Friday. It has been a very tough rally for us, but I have to thank all of the crews for what they have done for us.”
Neuville’s efforts in bouncing back from last month’s high-speed Copec Rally Chile crash were praised by Adamo, who added: “Thierry has the eye of the tiger. You don’t see this in all the drivers, only the champions. I was confident he would be able to do what he has done and he’s done it.”
Neuville admitted he took a couple of stages to play himself back into the car, but quickly found his feet.
“I made some small changes with the set-up of the car and then everything was good,” he said. “We were able to make fastest times on the first day and then we were in the race for second on the last day. It’s OK. We know the crashes are part of the sport.”