Neuville: Safer WRC Rally1 chassis "probably saved us" in testing crash

Thierry Neuville says the tougher FIA Rally1 chassis “probably saved us” in a frightening crash while testing Hyundai’s 2022 World Rally Championship challenger.

Neuville has heaped further praise on the new stronger and safer 2022 WRC chassis after he and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe escaped relatively unscathed after plunging into a ravine.

Speaking to Motorsport.com Neuville has explained that while driving in challenging weather conditions the pair were caught out and headed off the road after hitting the brakes.

Unfortunately, beyond the road was a steep drop into a valley, resulting in a heavy impact that caused significant damage to the car.

While Neuville climbed from the wreckage uninjured, Wydaeghe suffered a shoulder injury, requiring treatment from paramedics and surgery in hospital. Wydaeghe revealed this week that he is expecting to be fit for January's Monte Carlo Rally season opener.

Having already been impressed with the FIA's new stronger and safer Rally1 chassis, Neuville believes it prevented any serious injuries being sustained in the crash.

"Basically we had very challenging conditions and we were testing some new things on the car," said Neuville.

"We just got caught by surprise and we went straight under braking and there was nothing we could do and there was a big drop 30 metres deep just behind the corner. We fell down that drop basically.

"There was no reason for me to be scared. However it was a big impact definitely the crash was small but the drop was very big.

"We walked away from it but Martijn got injured a little bit collarbone but other than that nothing.

"We have already mentioned before that on the safety side that it looks like the FIA has done an incredible job again and they continue to push for more safety.

"The construction of the new cars is completely different.

"From that point of view it is another big step forward and it probably saved us as well. The drop was quite deep and the safety cage did its job."

Hyundai i20 Rally1

Hyundai i20 Rally1

Photo by: Hyundai

Neuville is expected to resume his testing programme of Hyundai's revised i20 Rally1 hybrid next week at the team's test base in Germany.

Having only experienced limited running in the car prior to the crash, the 33-year-old confirmed the new i20 is "completely different" and better in several areas compared to Hyundai's Rally1 prototype that has carried out the majority of 2022 testing.

"The car is the version we will use is a completely different car for sure," he added. "Everything is new again so I can't say much more. Everything is better and that is all I can say."

Hyundai faces a lead up to WRC's introduction of new Rally1 hybrid regulations without its charismatic team principal Andrea Adamo, who has departed the team with immediate effect due to personal reasons.

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