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"
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
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022