Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC) begins Monday, preparations on the Monte Carlo Rally, the first of a total of 13 games that will take him to his first world title. After he three times as a second world championships ended, he wants this season but one thing: to become world champion
Neuville had a turbulent 2017. After he in the Monte Carlo and in Sweden on the victory heading, he went two times in the error, and he continued to puntloos behind. Neuville did not throw in the towel, knew his behind Sébastien Ogier completely good and came in the run-up to the Rally of Germany for the first time in his career in the lead of the world CHAMPIONSHIP rally. But again it went wrong. Neuville was plagued by technical problems. Nevertheless, he finished the season in beauty. He won the Rally of Australia and secured the second place in the world CHAMPIONSHIP.
“I’m starting soon on my fifth season at Hyundai”, opened Neuville. “The first years were difficult. I had the car to learn and evolve as a rider. That is a learning process that you must go through. The hard work bore fruit. I made a lot of progression and the results remained not out. Last year, I was among the best. I won 4 rallies, but handle in addition to the world title. Partly my own fault, partly by materiaalpech. At the start of the season I made two errors. In the second part of the season there were three races where the car less reliable. That took me at least one victory. Last season I won 4 rallies. This year I start with one goal: the world title. I want to be world champion. Everything is there to achieve that goal. I’ve grown as a rider, as the team has evolved. Everything is there to make it a successful season. I have full confidence that we, this season can finish.”
There are little to no changes in the teams and riders this coming Thursday, the world cup rally of 2018 kick off. Sébastien Ogier seemed on the road to Citroën, but saw his plans thwarted by a sponsorconflict in which he was a plaything. Ogier had no other choice than Ford. His team-mate Ott Tänak swapped his Ford Fiesta WRC in a Toyota Yaris WRC. It has all the appearance of the world cup of 2018, with a copy of last season.
Neuville gets in his own ranks, competition from Andreas Mikkelsen. The Norwegian came by the end of 2016 suddenly without a team after VW the plug out of her rallyproject pulled. Mikkelsen drove a few races for Skoda and Citroën in order finally to find shelter at Hyundai Motorsports.
“I see him not as a competitor but as a colleague, ‘ explained Neuville. “He has a lot of technical knowledge gained by other teams. That knowledge can make us and the further development of our Hyundai. We are both competitive. I am convinced that we are the best in one another can bring, and so each other and the team to a higher level. Very important is that we are of the same material. It is a fascinating season. Tänak drove last year had a very strong season. He ended up often on the stage, won his first race and he never gave up. He is a tough competitor.”
The performance of Neuville ensured that the rallying in Belgium in popularity. Not only the fans but also among the general public and the media. In the result of the election to the Sportsman of the Year ended Neuville in fifth place. “I feel that my performance is more clamour in the press. Though I must immediately add that tennis, football and cycling much more attention. In terms of physical effort should be a rally driver not inferior to those of other sports. Rally is a global sport, so we are often away from home. I have to have a lot to sacrifice but that’s what I do with the smile. In comparison with a few years ago get the rallysport now a lot more attention. It’s going in the right direction.”