I'm still Hyundai's lead WRC driver, Thierry Neuville insists

Thierry Neuville insists he still goes into 2016 Hyundai's top World Rally Championship driver, despite a slump that led to a team status demotion at the end of this season

I'm still Hyundai's lead WRC driver, Thierry Neuville insists

The Belgian gave Hyundai its first WRC win in Germany in 2014 and began this year as undisputed number one driver, fighting the Volkswagens for victory on round two in Sweden.

But his form dipped mid-year, and by the season finale in Wales he had been placed in Hyundai's second-string team as Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo were given precedence.

Neuville still finished 2015 as Hyundai's top scorer in fifth in the championship, but only one point ahead of Sordo and six clear of Paddon.

The top 10 drivers of the WRC season

This year the team has declared all three drivers start with equal status and will be rotated across its line-ups, and even went as far as stressing that the trio were listed in purely alphabetical order in its recent 2016 launch communications.

Asked if he could reassert his authority over a team that he had made his own, Neuville told Autosport: "For sure. I think we have led it this year - we are still first Hyundai.

"In the end, the others didn't do better."

Neuville lost his focus when Hyundai delayed the New Generation i20 WRC's launch from mid-2015 to the start of the new season, a decision he was unhappy with.

"I criticised the team and maybe that was not very clever, but I think it was necessary," he said.

"After this things got more difficult. But it doesn't change what happened. I can only look forward."

GALLERY: Hyundai's new i20 WRC

Neuville urged his 2015 critics to look deeper into the stages times and particularly the road positions the three drivers

"We were not on the floor," he said. "The trouble is, people don't take time to analyse properly the situation.

"When [Sebastien] Ogier is running first, [Jari-Matti] Latvala second, [Andreas] Mikkelsen third and I was fifth, it's much easier [for Sordo and Paddon] when they are 10 and 11 on the road.

"This was a massive thing everywhere this year. The only rally where it was an advantage for me was in GB and I was leading both of them when we lost the wheel; we had only done two stages and already we had a good gap."

shares
comments
Ex-F1 driver Robert Kubica contest WRC season opener in Monte Carlo

Previous article

Ex-F1 driver Robert Kubica contest WRC season opener in Monte Carlo

Next article

Sebastien Loeb returns to World Rally Championship as team owner

Sebastien Loeb returns to World Rally Championship as team owner
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021