Thierry Neuville to drive Citroen instead of Nasser Al-Attiyah on Rally New Zealand
|By Matt Beer||Tuesday, May 15th 2012, 12:42 GMT|
Citroen protege Thierry Neuville has moved a step closer to contesting the full World Rally Championship schedule after Nasser Al-Attiyah handed the Belgian his Qatar Citroen for Rally New Zealand.
Neuville was initially confirmed for nine events in the Citroen Junior entry, with further rallies dependent on his performance.
Al-Attiyah has to miss the New Zealand event in order to train for the London Olympics, where he is competing in skeet shooting. The 2011 Dakar Rally winner therefore requested that Neuville take his car for the 22-24 June event.
"We are official entrants in the World Championship and it is mandatory for us to compete in every round," said Al-Attiyah. "It didn't take much thinking time to realise who should take my place in the #7 Citroen DS3 WRC.
"I trust Thierry, but most of all I want him to be able to gain as much experience from taking part in this event as possible and for it to be beneficial to him."
Neuville said he was touched by Al-Attiyah's gesture.
"This is more than just a great opportunity, it is a real honour for me to be trusted in this way by the team," he said.
Neuville took the best result of his WRC rookie campaign so far with fifth in the last round in Argentina - albeit running under Rally 2 after an early incident.