Has Neuville taken on too much this season?

Hyundai’s world championship leader has been the stimulus for a change for the better in the WRC. But at what cost?

Thierry Neuville

Twelve months ago, Thierry Neuville had seen enough. It was time for change. And he was ready to be part of that change. A year down the road, the Belgian offered a wry smile when DirtFish asked his thoughts on how the World Rally Championship was evolving.

The Hyundai driver admitted he might have taken on too much. Wedging the WRC’s social media plan and promotional strategy alongside damper set-up, engine settings and hybrid deployment hadn’t left capacity for much else. Was it beginning to tell?

“Maybe I’m a bit too much involved,” Neuville told DirtFish following Rally Italy Sardinia. “That was actually one of the questions I was asking myself yesterday (Saturday) when, yeah, obviously, things didn’t go well, and I missed out of concentration.”

Neuville’s criticism of WRC promotion is widely credited for kicking-starting dialogue leading to changes rolled out at the start of the season. The championship leader has found himself more involved in the development of the sport and is quick to encourage involvement from more of his colleagues.

Thierry Neuville

He added: “My involvement takes time, but at the same time, we have Julien Ingrassia working closely with the promoter and sharing information with the drivers, and we have Scott Martin for the WRC Commission as well, sharing information.

“I realized I’m one of the only, maybe one or two, who exchange with them [Martin and Ingrassia], who give answers. I would like to see more drivers as well supporting it and trying to make our sport great and give it the value it deserves – because the show we give in the stages is just superb.”

Don’t bet on Neuville staying out of the debate though, even if others do speak up. He has no regrets about the conversation he helped to instigate.

He concluded: “Two years back, or one and a half years back, when we came up with the thing, the change was needed. I think it was a good move, and it shows that, more and more, everybody was aware of it and to start to focus on what can be improved.”