Wed 24 Aug 2022

Neuville apologises to home fans

Hyundai Motorsport star Thierry Neuville has talked of his disappointment at missing out on a repeat Ypres Rally Belgium win – and apologised to the fans who lined the route hoping to celebrate with him.

Neuville bossed Belgium’s maiden WRC counter in 2021 and looked to have a stranglehold on last week’s event with a 17.2sec advantage heading into Saturday’s penultimate test. 

But the i20 N driver saw his hopes disintegrate on an innocuous-looking left-hander 6.4km after the start of Wijtschate - understeering into a ditch and handing the lead to team-mate Ott Tänak, who went on to win the rally. 

Thousands of flag-waving Belgian fans were out on the stages in support of their favourite driver and Neuville apologised for not returning them a result.

“Rallying has always been very popular in Belgium and it was good to see that, especially in the northern part of the country, we have such support,” Neuville told WRC.com.

“The number of fans we saw here in Belgium was incredible – really on the stages and everywhere, there were so many of them. The spectators, the supporters we had were incredible throughout the weekend. 

“I was impressed,” he continued, “but also disappointed that we couldn’t give them the result they were expecting. 

“Like I said before, we were caught out - we were surprised in this very slow corner and that was the end of the rally. I feel it was in our hands [for the win].”

Neuville’s result dropped him from third to fourth in the overall championship standings, which means he’ll start next month’s EKO Acropolis Rally Greece (8 - 11 September) fourth on the road.

Power steering issues early on last year’s Acropolis destroyed any hopes of a strong finish, although the 34-year-old is remaining positive about his chances this time around. 

“Now we have to move on, we put this behind us and we look to Greece,” he said. “We didn’t run in this place [fourth] on the road for a while, so maybe this can be good for us.

“We are working for the team and to bring the team forwards – the car is more reliable and the car is performing better. This is good.”

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