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Tue 23 Apr 2024

WRC leader Neuville takes the positives from Croatia

FIA World Rally Championship leader Thierry Neuville left Croatia Rally last week feeling satisfied with his efforts, despite his final-day crash preventing a possible victory.

Hyundai Motorsport star Neuville led for almost three quarters of the asphalt fixture, battling with Toyota rivals Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier virtually from start to finish.

Remarkably, Neuville and Evans were deadlocked after Friday’s first full leg, with just 4.9 seconds separating the pair going into Sunday’s finale. However, when both drivers suffered time-consuming incidents in SS18, Ogier seized the lead before going on to take victory.

Despite slipping to third by the finish, Neuville remained positive about his experience at round four. The Belgian’s advantage over closest championship challenger Evans remained at six points as the pair scored the same amount in Croatia.

“I have done worse,” Neuville told WRC.com. “Life continues.

“Yeah, we are frustrated, that’s for sure, but these things happen and everybody can make mistakes. That’s just part of our job. In the end, we take 19 points – the same amount as Elfyn – and the third place. We must be satisfied with it.”

Neuville likened Croatia’s closeness of competition to that of circuit racing, where competitors strive for minor gains lap after lap.

“It’s a rally where you are flat-out all the time, but generally the stages are really tough,” he explained. “They’re fast with low grip and dirt, so that makes it really challenging.

“On the stages we know, you start looking for millimetres; every cut, every corner, just to find the little tenths of seconds here and there. The cars are performing very similarly, and we just look for these little tenths everywhere. It’s like circuit driving, really – just with a bit more risk.”