Hyundai withdraws Neuville’s Latvia warm-up entry

World championship leader had hoped to gain more fast-gravel seat time in Lithuania this weekend

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Hyundai Motorsport has elected to withdraw Thierry Neuville from this week’s Lietuva Rally in Lithuania – an event the World Rally Championship leader had hoped to use as extra seat-time.

After the recent Rally Poland, Neuville told DirtFish he was seeking some more running aboard his i20 N Rally1 with two more high-speed gravel events in Latvia and Finland to come in the calendar.

“It’s clear that for those fast rallies, I need more seat driving time on our home road in Finland or whatever,” Neuville said.

“Last year, we were driving roughly 10 to 12 days a year. This year, I haven’t been there since February 1 in the snow. Probably, this is also one of the points we need to look forward to get me more driving time on fast rallies.



Neuville's wish for more time in the driver's seat of his i20 N ahead of Rally Latvia has fallen through

“I’m going to discuss with the team now, we’re going to see. I’m sure we’re going to find a solution together.”

Hyundai granted his wish by entering him and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe into this weekend’s 13-stage event in Lithuania, alongside team-mates Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm who will get in the car competitively for the first time since Safari Rally Kenya in March.

Hyundai’s other full-time driver, Ott Tänak, was also offered more seat-time in the shape of a run at his home event, last weekend’s Rally Estonia. But although the 2019 world champions were able to emerge unscathed from their heavy accident, the same could not be said for the i20 N Rally1 they were driving.

It is unclear if Neuville’s withdrawal from Lietuva Rally is a direct consequence of Tänak’s accident damage, but it would appear likely.

In a statement supplied to DirtFish, Hyundai confirmed: “We decided that due to other activities, Thierry will not participate in the rally in Lithuania. EP will be there as planned.”

Hyundai will also be in the UK this weekend, attending the Goodwood Festival of Speed with Dani Sordo present. DirtFish understands Neuville was originally scheduled to attend before he was entered into Lietuva Rally.