Neuville praises marshals' help in WRC Rally Spain final stage scare

Thierry Neuville has praised a group of marshals for helping revive his Hyundai after a “heart attack” moment almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Rally Spain.

Neuville praises marshals' help in WRC Rally Spain final stage scare

Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe were seen pushing their i20 with flames bellowing from the rear after it failed to start prior to Sunday’s final stage.

Luckily the rally leaders, who had built up a comfortable lead of more than 20 seconds, were able to push the car to the regroup section where marshals could assist them in firing up the car.

As a result, Neuville successfully completed the final stage, held in greasy damp conditions, to seal a dominant second World Rally Championship win of the season and bag four bonus Power Stage points.

In the end, Neuville closed the win with a 24.1s margin over Toyota’s Elfyn Evans while Hyundai's Dani Sordo finished third.

Having led the rally since Friday afternoon, Neuville admitted the late scare was a “heart attack” moment, caused by a recurring starter motor issue, but praised the help received from marshals.

“Literally the car was on fire, we were making some flames, but it is a problem we have faced several times this season unfortunately and it looks like it is not solved yet,” said Neuville.

“Sometimes the car just refuses to start and with a bit of luck the car will start at some point or not.

“The only way is to push the car luckily this time we were not far from the regroup and Martijn and myself were able to push the car into regroup, and in there we are allowed to get help from the marshals.

 

“Luckily again, there were enough marshals to give us the support and the car started immediately and that is why we were able to continue.

“Of course we are smiling, especially now after the little heart attack we had before the stage.

“I was pretty sure we would be able to get the car starting again but still there is a lot of stress, and the rain coming at the final stage. There was lots of stress but we kept cool and did the job.”

Neuville had started the rally on Friday struggling with serious understeer issues that at times required the Belgian to use the handbrake to get the car to turn on Spain’s tarmac roads.

However, a decision to move to “radical” set-up tweak suggestion by his engineer was the key in transforming his i20 into a car that rattled off eight consecutive stage wins from Friday afternoon through to Saturday to set up the win.

“The difference was basically a set up change on Friday midday,” Neuville added.

“My engineer pushed me into a bit more of a radical change and I have to say it was a good decision and immediately the car felt better. It decreased the understeer which was quite dominant in the morning loop.

“After that I felt quite comfortable and had a good clean run, no mistakes as well and that brought us the victory in the end.

“The result itself probably doesn’t show how much we’ve had to work. We had a good clean run until the final stage; everything was working perfectly up to that point.”

shares
comments

Related video

WRC points leader Ogier fined for Rally Spain traffic offence
Previous article

WRC points leader Ogier fined for Rally Spain traffic offence

Next article

Evans: "Anything can happen” in Monza WRC title decider

Evans: "Anything can happen” in Monza WRC title decider
The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title Plus

The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title

With only cameo roles played by legendary Sebastiens Ogier and Loeb, Kalle Rovanpera ushered in the new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship by becoming its youngest champion. Here's how Toyota's Flying Finn crushed the competition, led by Hyundai's departing star Ott Tanak

WRC
Dec 1, 2022
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022