All four DS3 WRCs finished in the top 10 at the end of the Wales Rally GB to hand Citroën Racing a very good overall result. Having achieved the goal they were set, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroën Junior WRT) took the points for seventh place. And after making a strong comeback on Sunday's leg, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giovanni Bernacchini ended the rally in tenth position.
Despite enjoying mild temperatures and mostly clear skies, Wales Rally GB still managed to live up to its reputation, serving up muddy and foggy stages in the Welsh forests. From Llandudno to Cardiff, taking in Newtown on the way, the crews had to constantly adapt to the changing road conditions.
After having set the third fastest time in qualifying, Thierry Neuville had opted to go first on day one’s stages. In the end, the much anticipated rain did not manifest itself, leaving the Belgian in an unenviable position. He ended the first leg down in eighth position, almost 2m 30s behind the leaders. “It wasn’t easy to go first on the road, especially as my pace notes weren‘t great for the first run,” he admitted. “I steadily grew in confidence and then I enjoyed it more towards the end of the day.”
Equally committed on day two, the Citroën Junior World Rally Team driver reduced the time by which he trailed the leading guys: after losing a second per kilometre on Friday, he was only six tenths off the pace on Saturday. “I am still focussed, however, on my goal of not making any mistakes. I’m driving at 85% or 90% and am only really pushing when I feel inspired to do so by the stages,” he explained.
Thierry move up a position on day three and ended the rally seventh overall: “First and foremost, I'm pleased to achieve the target set for me by the team. It wasn’t always easy to hold back, but it's something that you need to do if you want to learn about putting races together. We were constantly having to adapt to the changing conditions and so from that point of view, this rally was a great learning experience. I am really looking forward to racing on tarmac again at the Rallye de France.”
After returning to action at the Rally Deutschland, Nasser Al-Attiyah went into this rally with his usual modesty: “I’ll have to take it gradually, because there are plenty of tricky sections on the roads here and I don’t have all that much experience of driving on them.”
Thirteenth for most of the rally, the Qatari saw his persistence rewarded on Sunday. After adopting a quicker pace, he moved from 12th to 10th place in setting the seventh fastest time on the Power Stage. “A bit like Thierry, I’m pleased to have made it to the end without making any mistakes. Sometimes, I didn’t really feel very confident, especially in the braking areas. So I ended up losing quite a few seconds. I really enjoyed myself on Sunday. I was able to push when I wanted and I'm pleased to score points again for the Qatar World Rally Team.”