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WRC Rally Croatia

Neuville explains crash that ended WRC victory shot in Croatia

Thierry Neuville has explained the reasons behind the crash in stage 11 that ended his hopes of a World Rally Championship victory he was “dreaming of” in Croatia.

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

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

The Hyundai driver was leading the rally by 10.8 seconds from Toyota’s Elfyn Evans when he went off the road 5.2km into a brand new test for this year’s rally.

Neuville misjudged a long right hander which resulted in his i20N drifting wide and into a piece of concrete which broke the left rear damper and upright which forced the Belgian to retire from Saturday’s action.

“I was trying to keep fighting with Elfyn and defend our lead and into a third gear right hand corner I was maybe a bit late on the braking going into the cut and when I entered the cut I lost the rear,” said Neuville.

“We hit some concrete on the outside and the rally was over.

“I didn’t feel very well in the car to be honest because it was a new stage and new pacenotes and tricky conditions, so I actually was not that fast, and on the split times we lost 1.5s after only three kilometres, but I expected to continue my rhythm.”

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

When asked if he was happy with the feeling in the I20 N overall before stage 11, he added: “I mentioned yesterday was that I wasn’t feeling 100% confident but the knowledge of the roads definitely made the difference and I was able to compensate by knowing exactly what was coming and knowing exactly what the conditions were like.

“It is true that as soon as we went into the new stage it was much harder for me and I had similar feelings to Friday morning when I was struggling a bit, that’s why we were a bit slower from the beginning.

“When you are fighting for victory a small mistake can have huge consequences. We need to live with that.

“I think we were all dreaming about the victory this weekend and we know for what reason [to honour late team-mate Craig Breen], we were close but to be honest it hasn’t been easy in the car all weekend and we were fighting hard to keep believing and dreaming, but unfortunately it ended too early.”

Neuville is expected to return to action on Sunday to salvage championship points from the rally ending powerstage.

The sole remaining Hyundai driven by Esapekka Lappi inherited third following Neuville’s retirement.

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