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Mon 06 May 2024

Neuville hopes for wet Friday at Rally de Portugal

Thierry Neuville says his hopes of a second FIA World Rally Championship win of the season will depend on the weather in and around this week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Arriving at the start of round five at the top of the championship table means the Hyundai driver will lead the field through Friday’s stages close to Matosinhos – and if the weather stays dry, he knows that means he’s going to be sweeping a cleaner and faster line for those who follow the #11 i20 N Rally1 Hybrid.

Neuville said: “Road conditions and position will also make a huge difference to how we perform: whenever it’s raining we will be fast, when it’s dry we will struggle more because everyone knows the stages well.

“Success in Portugal comes down to the same factors as always. We need consistency, a good setup and confidence in the car.”

Talking after his test, the Belgian admitted he’d been working towards a Portugal set-up during the previous gravel outing in Kenya.

He said: “I was happy with the car in the pre-event test, and we focussed on a setup that would bring me the necessary confidence to push in very slippery conditions.

“This more precise car is needed for all the corner combinations, but I still need some of the traction we focussed on in Kenya. My goals are to optimise our performance on Friday and Saturday before pushing on Sunday for maximum points, I would love to finish on the top step of the podium.”

Neuville has, of course, stood on top of the Portuguese podium, defeating Sébastien Ogier in a final-stage thriller in 2018.