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Neuville explains distracting brush with a bee at WRC Safari Rally Kenya

Thierry Neuville has explained how a bee came into his crash helmet which disrupted his concentration, costing him time at the World Rally Championship Safari Rally.

The Hyundai driver endured an eventful Friday morning in Kenya which began with a strange brush with the wildlife in the opening Loldia (19.17km) test.

However, it wasn’t Kenya’s usual wild animals that disrupted Neuville. At the start of the stage, a bee managed to find its way inside his Hyundai i20N and into his eye-line while navigating through the jungle. 

Despite the distraction, the Belgian only dropped 8.7s to stage winner Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier. 

“Yeah, it was strange. It looked like a bee but it was two times bigger,” Neuville told Autosport.

“After two corners I was braking and it came into the car and then into my crash helmet and I was distracted. 

“I didn’t know if it was dangerous or not but after a while it went into the back of the car after four or five kilometres and we finished the stage.”

Neuville lost further time to a front right puncture on stage three but ended the loop, 21.2s behind rally leader Ogier at midday service.  

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team

Photo by: Vincent Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

The incident with the bee wasn’t the only wildlife interaction on the stage, as M-Sport’s Ott Tanak had to back off for a pig and then a group of zebras that were on the road on the same stage.

Ogier also admitted he had a close call with a zebra on a fast section during the morning loop. 

“I came very close to a zebra at full speed and I didn’t back off as it is a super fast section and it would cost a lot if you back off there,” Ogier told Autosport.

“The zebra had a good idea to turn at the last minute, it could have been bad.”  

Ogier did lose time to a loss of hybrid power on the morning’s final stage which threatened his rally lead although the Frenchman was able to cling on to a 2.5s advantage over team-mate Kalle Rovanpera.

The 2021 Safari Rally winner says the hybrid issue has already been resolved before his GR Yaris entered service. 

“It looks like it [the hybrid issue] is already fixed. It was just a small reset from Compact Dynamics, unfortunately, it looks like a sensor or a mistake from their side again,” he added.  

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“The most important thing is we are still in the lead and of course, it cost us a bit of time. But in that stage, we see every year that starting at the front is the best as it is super soft and sandy and it gets worse and worse, so even without hybrid I think we did a good stage. 

“It looks like this third stage is not my stage as three years in a row I have had problems there, a damper in 2021, last year was a puncture and now hybrid, at least this one is smaller.”

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