Local knowledge should give Neuville “upper hand” on Rally Ypres

Thierry Neuville says if he can make the most of his local knowledge he should have the upper hand over his World Rally Championship rivals on Rally Ypres this weekend.

The event is the first time Neuville will perform on home soil in the WRC as the famous tarmac rally finally joins the calendar following its cancellation due to COVID-19 last year.

The Hyundai Motorsport driver is the most familiar with Belgium’s unique asphalt roads and is a former Ypres winner in 2018, while teammate Craig Breen triumphed at the event the following season.

Armed with local knowledge, Neuville has emerged as the pre-event favourite, and while he is still expecting a close fight for victory, the 33-year-old is hoping the experience will help him score a first win since Monte Carlo in January 2020.

“As always we have a good chance for a good result, it is nothing different compared to other rallies,” said Neuville, who has finished third in five of the seven rallies this year, and sits 52 points adrift of championship leader Sebastien Ogier.

“We are most of the time among the leaders with five podiums in seven rallies. We have been in the game pretty much everywhere.

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

“It should be the same this weekend and a few of the competitors are going to make the fight tough.

“I don’t see why the gap should be bigger here than usual between us, but hopefully I can be a little be bit more safe and relaxed than them, and take my knowledge from the region and the stages. If I can benefit from that I should have the upper hand.

“It is a special event and the grip changes are high and the grip in general is low and if the weather is bad it is a nightmare to drive in the rain.

“But it looks as though the conditions will stabilise for the end of the week. I know what is our target and what to do.”

Neuville has arrived in Ypres off the back of a third place finish in Estonia despite battling illness and an eye infection on the final day. Heading into his home event, Neuville confirmed he is back to full fitness.

“It took a while to [feel better] be honest but now I can work with my two eyes. It looks like I got something in there and it got infected," he added.

Rally Ypres will be contested over 20 stages covering 295.75kms, beginning tomorrow afternoon and concluding at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday.

shares
comments

Related video

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

Previous article

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

Next article

Greensmith working with Rally Ypres expert ahead of WRC round

Greensmith working with Rally Ypres expert ahead of WRC round
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Prime

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium Prime

Home hero Neuville delivers overdue WRC success for Hyundai in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Prime

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Prime

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021