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Mon 10 Oct 2022

Neuville demands wet-weather improvements

Hyundai Motorsport star Thierry Neuville has called on his team to raise its game in wet-weather conditions - particularly on gravel.

The Belgian pointed to the i20 N Rally1’s struggle to keep up with its rivals at the most recent wet-weather outing in New Zealand, where he finished fourth overall.  

Neuville’s concerns are centred around the car’s ability to retain its performance on wet gravel, although, with the remaining two rounds taking place on asphalt, any developments will have to made with an eye to the 2023 season. 

“We need to find more precision from the car,” explained Neuville. “Sometimes it’s too slow to react and we need to change this. It’s about working with the differentials and some other areas. I think we know what we have to do. 

“When it is getting wet, we are really struggling. We saw this in Estonia: when the rain came, we could do really nothing, and we saw again in New Zealand it was like this. We struggled again.

“As well as raising the performance, we need to make the car more comfortable to drive – we will see then, but this could make more performance as well. I have some ideas for some things we could do, but the problem is we have no real gravel testing until next season,” he added. 

Kalle Rovanperä’s championship victory means the best Neuville can hope for in the drivers’ standings is second overall. He currently holds third, 29 points behind team-mate Ott Tänak with two rallies remaining. 

Neuville was quick to congratulate the new champion but admitted that his team’s lack of performance earlier in the year did allow the Finn to pull clear.

“I mean, congratulations to him,” Neuville lauded. “He did what he needed to do and it was only a matter of time before it happened. I think, when I was his age I wasn’t even in WRC yet. He’s done a lot of work since he was very young and it has gone quite well. 

“Kalle has always had the speed, but last year he lacked the consistency. Now everything has come together for him and it seems like the car is working really well for him as well. 

“He did a good job by securing five victories at the beginning of the season when Hyundai was nowhere, so that made his life a bit easier. But at the end, he did what he needed to do in New Zealand on a very challenging and tricky event.”

Neuville heads to next week’s RallyRACC - Rally de España (20 - 23 October) as one of the victory favourites having won the past two editions of the Salou-based fixture.