Hyundai drivers Thierry Neuville and Craig Breen will tackle next week’s Ciocco Rally in a pair of i20 R5 cars.
Based in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, just north of Lucca, the two-day event will provide both drivers with a maiden all-asphalt outing of the season. Breen’s presence on the opening Italian Rally Championship round is a strong hint that the Irishman will remain in the factory i20 Coupe WRC for next month’s Rally Croatia.
Neuville will relish the opportunity to spend more time in stage mode with new-for-2021 co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe.
“It’s a good chance to work more with Martijn and our gravel crew before the next Tarmac rally,” Neuville told DirtFish.
“Doing Il Ciocco will give him more time with them. We have quite a long break coming now and while it might be nice to be home by the pool if the weather’s nice, somehow it’s really important for us to get more mileage together.”
Neuville experienced some pretty severe communication issues with Wydaeghe on Arctic Rally Finland, but confirmed that his fellow Belgian would be staying in the car for the next World Rally Championship round and admitted he was impressed with what he’d seen from Wydaeghe so far.
“What impressed me most is his calmness, he’s very calm, it’s very quiet all the time and he feels relaxed, so that’s a good sign.
“You know, as well, he’s sitting next to a good driver. But still he seems to enjoy and has a lot of motivation and also gives me an extra boost again, with some new things around me to push myself even more and so far it’s working.”
This will be the second time this year Hyundai Motorsport has contested a warm-up rally, with Ott Tänak and Neuville finishing one-two on Estonia’s Otepää Winter Rally a fortnight before last week’s Arctic Rally Finland.