Neuville dedicates maximum attack WRC Power Stage win to Breen

Thierry Neuville says a maximum attack drive to win the Rally Croatia Power Stage that left him “freaking out” during the run was for his late Hyundai team-mate Craig Breen.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Neuville left nothing on the table as he produced a blistering run to edge Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera by 0.9s in stage 20 to claim the five bonus World Rally Championship points on offer.

It was an emotionally-charged run following the disappointment of falling short of the overall rally victory, that he and the team were dreaming of to honour Breen, who died in crash during pre-event testing last week.

Hyundai fielded a reduced two-car line-up at the event after consulting with Breen’s family, with both cars running a special tribute livery to the Irishman.

Although disappointed to crash out of the rally lead on Saturday in stage 11, Neuville was determined to make Breen proud with a victory in the rally-ending Power Stage.

“I am just so disappointed for the team, for us, after everything that has happened,” said Neuville.

“It is a tough moment, so we really wanted the victory to make Craig proud.

“Unfortunately, we missed the opportunity with our retirement from the lead on Saturday. We have had to give more than 100%, and when you are on the limit you can’t always avoid such mistakes.

“We rejoined the rally this morning determined to fight in the Power Stage. We gave absolutely everything and that was for Craig.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“I didn’t care about the car I just went for it trying to do the fastest time possible.

“I was freaking out there in the stage and at the end it was a very emotional moment for me and Martijn [Wydaeghe, co-driver], but this was what the last 10 days were about.

“I’m pleased that we were here at the start of this rally for Craig and I’m pleased to put on a show in the Power Stage. For sure, I’m going to remember that one.”

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In addition to the Power Stage win, Hyundai was represented on the podium with its sister car driven by Esapekka Lappi, who finished behind eventual winner Toyota’s Elfyn Evans and M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak.

“Big thanks to the team. It was not an easy decision to come here for most of us, but we appreciated the opportunity to drive again,” said Lappi, who scored his first WRC podium driving for Hyundai.

“I know it’s been really tough, arguably one of the hardest weeks ever. We kept our heads together with a smart drive that enabled us to be on the podium. It’s a very important result for us and for the team.”

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