Neuville: Italy important to "keep pressure high" on Toyota

Thierry Neuville says he has to score big points in this weekend's Rally Sardegna to keep the pressure on Toyota title rivals Sebastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans.

Neuville: Italy important to "keep pressure high" on Toyota
Listen to this article

The Hyundai driver threw away a strong shot at victory in Rally Portugal two weeks ago when he hit a bank during the Mortagua stage and damaged the rear suspension on his i20 Coupe WRC.

Neuville was sitting second at the end of Friday as Hyundai held the top three positions, with Dani Sordo leading and Ott Tanak third.

However the rally imploded for the Korean marque on Saturday as first Neuville, then Tanak retired with suspension damage, leaving third driver Sordo to finish second behind Evans.

Having slipped 22 points adrift of championship leader Ogier to third in the standings, Neuville says he needs to respond at this weekend’s Rally Sardinia if he is to inject fresh life into his title chances.

“The main feeling we have now is we know we have to score good points here this weekend,” said the Belgian, who topped the times in shakedown by 0.9s from Tanak.

“We have to have a trouble-free run and it is really important if you want to keep the pressure high on Sebastien and Elfyn. Of course they can have trouble or punctures or issues with the tyres, and it is the same for us.

“The experience from the past is that there is no driver in such a competitive season that has had a whole season without a rally where no points are scored. The season is not over yet.

“I’m confident we have our chance to fight back, but I also know this weekend that I really want to score big points to close in the gap a little bit.

“We are going to try to manage our speed and push when it is needed. We had great speed in Portugal but it was a simple mistake that brought our rally immediately to an end. We have got away with mistake in the past but this time it was crucial and it was a shame.”

Read Also:

After witnessing a potential Hyundai one-two-three evaporate in Rally Portugal, team boss Andrea Adamo says that “no panic reaction” is needed in Italy.

“We didn’t change the approach of the rally in respect to what we had planned,” Adamo told Motorsport.com.

“The worst we could have done was a panic reaction. We know that we have prepared very well and we know the car performance is there, so no panic reaction is needed.

“We have to never give up and to push and work hard as we did. We have to bring back the good things that we have seen and try to understand what was wrong to avoid it happening again.

“There are so many rallies. It is not the end until it is the end.

“I would be more worried if we had finished second in Portugal without leading and being competitive.

“The competitiveness that we have shown can give us the mood and the determination to fight back, 37 points [deficit] and so many rallies from now until the end of the year it is not a disaster."

The rough gravel roads of Sardinia have proven to be a happy hunting ground for Hyundai in recent years, having won in each of the last three editions. After Neuville claimed the spoils in 2018, Sordo ended his six-year wait for a second WRC win in 2019, then followed it up in 2020.

However, Adamo is not allowing complacency to creep in despite Hyundai's success on the rally.

“It is not for granted,” he said.

“The good thing is they will start still back in the starting list order.”

Rally Sardegna is set to begin on Friday with the first stage beginning at 06:22 GMT.

shares
comments

Related video

Evans yet to focus on WRC future amid interest from M-Sport
Previous article

Evans yet to focus on WRC future amid interest from M-Sport

Next article

Mikkelsen in talks with M-Sport regarding 2022 WRC drive

Mikkelsen in talks with M-Sport regarding 2022 WRC drive
Load comments
Why Loeb v Ogier duel gave the WRC's new hybrid era the ideal start Prime

Why Loeb v Ogier duel gave the WRC's new hybrid era the ideal start

OPINION: Any lingering concerns about the new-for-2022 Rally1 hybrid cars were dispelled by a blockbuster opening round to the World Rally Championship in Monte Carlo. The duel between Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier created a perfect feel-good story that will carry the series forward into its new era.

WRC
Jan 27, 2022
How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off Prime

How Monte masters stole the show as WRC's hybrid era blasted off

The new Rally1 hybrid cars made their competition debuts in Monte Carlo, but it was two semi-retired drivers who took centre stage in a thrilling battle between two of the World Rally Championship's most successful names. Here's how Sebastien Loeb completed a remarkable return on his M-Sport debut by beating reigning champion Sebastien Ogier

WRC
Jan 24, 2022
The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022 Prime

The WRC heirs scrapping to assume Ogier's throne in 2022

Eight-time World Rally Championship king Sebastien Ogier has abdicated (well, gone part-time) in 2022, meaning for just the second time in the past decade we will have a different champion this year. We pick out the drivers gunning to take his place and take over the mantle as the WRC's new ruler

WRC
Jan 20, 2022
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Prime

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
Jan 18, 2022
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Prime

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. We pick out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Prime

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against teammate Elfyn Evans.

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Prime

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021