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Tue 31 Oct 2023

Neuville’s high praise for Central European Rally debut

Central European Rally winner Thierry Neuville was full of praise for the tri-nation fixture’s debut edition in the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.

The brand-new event was based out of German city Passau but started from Prague last Thursday before a full day of Czech stages on Friday. Saturday and Sunday’s speed tests, meanwhile, journeyed across the German-Austrian border.


Hyundai i20 N star Neuville emerged as the victor by almost one-minute having seized control of the rally on day two when Elfyn Evans crashed out and Kalle Rovanperä’s focus turned to his title aspirations.


The Belgian, currently third in the drivers’ championship standings, was blown away by the significant fan attendance across all four days.

“I think, for those who have been in the WRC for a long time, it’s been a while since we have seen as much excitement around an event as we have had this weekend,” Neuville lauded. “There were people everywhere, and not only on the stages – [they were] on the road sections, in the regroups, everywhere lots of people.


“I am not against driving a lot or having road sections with long distances if we see the amount of spectators that we have seen this weekend. It was just a great spectacle and a good show, so I don’t mind doing a lot of mileage if it’s rewarded.”


As well as delivering in the atmosphere department, Neuville admitted that the stages used were all exceptionally challenging.


“The rally was nice but the weather was challenging,” he explained. “It was very difficult, and we had a clear disadvantage [with our road position] on Friday.


“Our chances for victory were very small but we were able to turn around the situation on Saturday with a consistent and fast run through while others were making mistakes. We were just right behind, putting the pressure on, and it worked.”