WRC Estonia: Neuville can’t afford to drive saving the car

Thierry Neuville says he cannot afford to drive protecting his Hyundai at this weekend’s Rally Estonia, admitting he is “not really concerned” over the recent suspension reliability issues.

WRC Estonia: Neuville can’t afford to drive saving the car

The Belgian suffered the heartbreak of a suspension failure on the final day of the Safari Rally last month, robbing him the chance of a likely victory, which would have been his first triumph since Monte Carlo last year.

It was the third rally in a row that Hyundai had suffered a rear suspension failure while one of its drivers was leading comfortably, resulting in boss Andrea Adamo vowing to find a solution to why identical components used last year are now failing.

This weekend the WRC field tackles Estonia’s much smoother and faster gravel roads compared to the previous rough gravel rounds in Portugal, Sardinia and Kenya. However, this weekend’s rapid stages will test the car’s suspension through a series of artificially created jumps and crests.

Asked if any changes had been made to the set-up of his i20 with protecting rear suspension in mind, Neuville said he wasn’t overly concerned, citing that the team enjoyed a 1-2 at the event last year.

“The conditions are different for sure but the jumps are really big so the landing is going to be hard, but we had no issues last year and we had two cars on the podium here last year, so we are not really concerned about it,” said Neuville, who sits 56 points adrift of championship leader Sebastien Ogier (Toyota).

“Obviously as a team we have been missing some luck more than anything else, as there was no reason why we have broken more suspension units this year compared to last year, because basically the car is the same.

“I was protecting my car a lot in Kenya by running very high and even then we had some failure.

“We have to go forward and fight for victory, anyhow if we come here to try and save the car and finish behind the Toyotas the championship will be even tougher.”

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

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

Photo by: Fabien Dufour / Hyundai Motorsport

Last year’s event winner, Hyundai's Ott Tanak added: “There is concern always if you hit some gravel, but this is something we can’t change - so it is something we should not think about.”

Hyundai will however been boosted by an engine upgrade that will debut this weekend.

The update follows after Toyota debuted an upgraded engine at Portugal in May.

Both Neuville and Tanak were coy when asked about the advantages the engine change could deliver this weekend.

“Of course I have had the chance to drive it several times already. The engine guys seems to be happy with the improvement,” said Neuville.

Tanak added: “We will find out, Every upgrade or change you get is not so big as everything is really on the limit, but let’s see.

“The feeling is ok but the difference is very small, so it is difficult to make a big step.”

Toyota boss Jari-Matti Latvala is not concerned by the update title rivals Hyundai will debut, stating that it is hard to make big steps with the cars anymore.

“I think it is difficult now to make big steps with the engines,” said Latvala.

“For sure the small steps will always help a bit but it is difficult to make massive steps anymore, so I’m not too concerned about it. But we know Tanak is very strong here, it is his home rally, so he is the toughest guy to beat here.”

shares
comments

Related video

Ford steps up WRC support through Puma development

Previous article

Ford steps up WRC support through Puma development

Next article

Evans closing in on new Toyota WRC deal after "positive negotiations"

Evans closing in on new Toyota WRC deal after "positive negotiations"
Load comments
How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Plus

How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Plus

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Plus

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Plus

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory Plus

How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory

At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies

WRC
May 24, 2021
Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages Plus

Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages

Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt

WRC
May 13, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Plus

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia Plus

How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021