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Neuville handed suspended event ban, fine for WRC Estonia speeding

Thierry Neuville has been issued a suspended one event World Rally Championship ban and a fine for “driving at excessive speed” on a road section at Rally Estonia.

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville, Hyundai Motorsport

Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

The Hyundai Motorsport driver finished the event third behind breakthrough winner Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera and Hyundai’s Craig Breen.

However, officials have since handed the Belgian and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe a €2,500 fine and a suspended one event ban after being clocked at a speed of 190 km/h in a 90km/h road section.

It proved to be an eventful final day for Neuville who suffered a starter motor issue on his i20 twice that resulted in being late to the penultimate stage and a 10s penalty.

This issue contributed to the breach of regulations as Hyundai told stewards at a hearing that "due to some technical problems on their car, they were approaching TC23 [Time check] late.

“As they were fighting for a podium position in the classification they could not avoid overspeeding in order not to be late at TC23.”

The team added that during a post event hearing that “at that moment the road was clear of traffic” when the pair were travelling to the time check.

However, officials have slapped the sanction on the pair citing that the event ban would come into force “if, within the 2021 FIA WRC season, Neuville commits any speeding offence exceeding 30% or more of the applicable speed limit.”

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

The stewards report continued: “Excessive speed represents a serious breach of the above-mentioned articles of the FIA International Sporting Code.

“In this case the speed recorded was more than 100% over the speed limit, and the absence of traffic cannot be taken into consideration to claim mitigating circumstances.”

The news comes as a further blow to Neuville who had been battling intermittent pain in his right eye on Sunday that meant co-driver Wydaeghe had to drive some road sections to provide respite.

“Still the rally was tough as technical issues brought a lot of stress in the car as twice the car wouldn’t start and we were late to TC two stages before the finish,” said Neuville in the post event press conference held before sanctions were issued.

“I’m struggling with a lot of pain in my right eye since this morning and it is getting a little bit better even Martijn was driving on the road section because I could not see anything.

“I didn’t feel well all day but at the end the job is done.”

Neuville sits third in the WRC standings 52 points behind Toyota’s Sebastien Ogier.

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