Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe
WRC Rally Kenya

Neuville excluded from WRC Safari Rally Kenya for recce rules breach

Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville has been disqualified from Safari Rally Kenya after breaching the World Rally Championship’s reconnaissance regulations.

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe have lost eighth place and the five bonus points for winning the rally-ending powerstage after FIA stewards determined that a “person connected with the crew travelled on or over the route of two Special Stages, after reconnaissance, without authorisation.”

Neuville admitted in a stewards hearing “that he was aware of the identified person and that he had requested this person’s support in identifying specific concerns in some special stages,” and apologised for his lapse in judgement.

“The Stewards summarised the finding of the report received from the Clerk of Course that was initiated independently by the Rally Organiser,” read an FIA stewards report.

“It indicated instances where an unauthorised person was seen, after reconnaissance, to be driving on routes that would be used as Special Stages over the course of the Rally. The person was on private property without authorisation and was stopped by Officials in two (2) locations on two (2) different days. The evidence presented to the Stewards indicated links of this person to the Crew of Car No. 11.

“When asked, the Driver of Car No. 11 promptly admitted to the Stewards that he was aware of the identified person and that he had requested this person’s support in identifying specific concerns (areas where rocks had moved) in some Special Stages that the Crew will be required to compete on.

“The Driver presented an honest synopsis of the situation and apologised to the Stewards for his lapse in judgement. The Driver took the onus of responsibility for this infringement.

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: Tomek Kaliński

“The Co-driver highlighted the Crew’s concern when it comes to the safe navigation of the challenging routes and how they perceive some ambiguity to what constitutes corner-cutting and the anti-cutting measures that the organiser was perceived to have introduced following reconnaissance.”

The loss of the nine points amassed in Kenya has dropped Neuville from second to fifth in the championship, 47 points behind leader Kalle Rovanpera.

Rovanpera has gained extra powerstage point from Neuville’s exclusion and now leads the championship by 41 points over Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans.

The disqualification is yet another blow to Neuville’s title hopes after suffering a front-left suspension failure that resulted in a retirement from fourth on Friday. He rejoined the rally on Saturday where he had recovered to eighth and a powerstage win.

Confirmation of Neuville’s exclusion means M-Sport's Ott Tanak has been declared the winner of the Safari Rally Kenya powerstage.

Hyundai has accepted the decision and issued the following statement on Monday morning.

"Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team acknowledges the decision of the stewards to disqualify car #11 (Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe) from Safari Rally Kenya as a breach of article 35.4.2 – access of the stages by car," read the statement.

"Despite the circumstances brought forward by the crew in relation to the uncertainty of road limits at this specific event, we understand and take note of the FIA’s position to take necessary steps to stop the customary practice of participants accessing the roads to enhance their knowledge.

"We will work with the FIA to continue to promote safety and equality of crews on the stages." 

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Ogier: "I've rarely had to fight like this" for WRC victory in Kenya
Next article Abiteboul: WRC Safari Rally reliability issues a “wake up call” for Hyundai

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe