Neuville has given up on catching Rovanperä

The Hyundai driver has waved the white flag in the bid to win this year's world title

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Thierry Neuville has waved the white flag in the World Rally Championship title race, conceding that he has little hope of catching points leader Kalle Rovanperä over the rest of this season.

After scoring his fifth win in six events, Rovanperä’s lead over second-placed Neuville in the standings is up to 83 points, effectively putting the five-time championship runner-up three victories behind with six events remaining.

Neuville meanwhile is without a win so far this year, his best result a second place in Sweden amid a litany of reliability issues aboard his Hyundai i20 N Rally1.

When asked by DirtFish what he could do to respond to Rovanperä’s winning streak, Neuville replied: “Nothing.”

He added: “I don’t think I have any plans to do something against him at the moment.

“He has nearly double the points of what we have, so the target for me is to go the maximum number of times on the podium and bring home at least a victory in Belgium.”

Neuville indicated he was not surprised at being off the pace in Estonia, having expected Toyota to have the best car both there and at the next event on the calendar, Finland.

But he’s still hoping for more silverware later in the year, especially on Ypres Rally where he’s won twice before, including its maiden appearance on the WRC calendar last season.

“We will have some speed on some of the events but like we had in other events as well, in some different conditions we have been fast,” said Neuville.

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“We knew the Toyota has always been fast in Finland and Estonia, so it wasn’t a secret. They also brought some improvements ahead of that event.

“So in general, yeah, we’re gonna make some steps and let’s see.”

As for the weaknesses of his own package in Estonia, Neuville pointed out a perfect storm of events had combined to leave him four minutes off the lead in fourth place – a step backwards from the year before.

“Last year I had a good event over here and I was able to fight for a podium position,” Neuville pointed out. “This year we definitely weren’t capable.


“A lot of things came together. First of all I didn’t feel comfortable in the car. I was a bit sick during recce as well, so in total a lot of things came together and it didn’t work out.

“Obviously the powerstage didn’t work well either. With zero visibility, I couldn’t see anything right from the start.

“Not what we expected but, at the end, finishing right behind Ott [Tänak] is probably the best we could have done.”