Wed 13 Sep 2023

“No chance” for Hyundai in manufacturers’ title race, Neuville believes

Thierry Neuville admits the chances of his Hyundai Motorsport team winning the manufacturers’ title in this year’s FIA World Rally Championship are now slim to none.

Standing beside his Hyundai i20 N after Sunday afternoon’s finish at EKO Acropolis Rally Greece, Neuville was relatively communicative considering his hopes of winning the legendary gravel fixture had gone awry 24 hours earlier with broken front suspension.

The Belgian driver’s Saturday retirement meant he failed to extract a single point from the championship’s 10th round, and now sits 66 points adrift of leader Kalle Rovanperä. In the manufacturers’ title race, meanwhile, Toyota extended its lead over Hyundai to 91 points.

Rally Chile Bio Bío is up next later this month and, there, Toyota must outscore Hyundai by 13 points to seal the manufacturers’ crown with two rounds to spare. But does Neuville think he and the Korean marque can stage a comeback?

“No,” he replied. “No chance.”

“Obviously there’s still the car to improve, the team is restructuring and I have a lot of hope and trust that, actually, we will improve and be in a better position next year.

“I think we know what to do and it’s obvious that, against Toyota, we still sometimes are down. And we need to be onto that, everyone.”

Neuville won Rally Italia Sardegna in June and has netted top-three finishes at every other rally this year barring Croatia (due to a crash) and Kenya (disqualification). Mechanical issues in Portugal and Greece also prevented him from reaching the podium at those events.

“If you look back at it now, we would have been on the podium on all the events other than Croatia, where obviously I went off the road while leading the event,” he said. “In Portugal, we would have been on the podium if we didn’t have this turbo failure.

“If you take all those things, yeah, we would have been on the podium in all the events - even here (in Greece) without our trouble. That’s painful.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM