Thierry Neuville has told DirtFish the “basic” intercom problem that had been affecting the delivery of new co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe’s pacenotes has now been fixed following the pair’s WRC-class victory on Rally Sanremo last weekend.
The Belgians were one of five Hyundai Motorsport crews contesting the former WRC event, with team-mate Ott Tänak and 2C Competition’s Pierre-Louis Loubet their chief opponents in the latest asphalt specification of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.
Craig Breen and Oliver Solberg drove i20 R5 cars with Breen winning and Solberg retiring after losing a wheel.
Neuville and Wydaeghe won three of the seven stages to outpace Tänak by 3.9 seconds, but their end-of-rally advantage ballooned by half a minute as the result of an SS1 penalty for Tänak.
What's sure is we have got more and more into the rhythm in the car so that's nice. So definitely the day helped us a lotThierry Neuville on Wydaeghe's performance in Sanremo
It was their second rally win as a partnership and second in succession having won the Ciocco Rally last month, also in Italy.
During their last WRC event, Arctic Rally Finland, Neuville revealed that native Flemish speaker and World Rally Car rookie Wydaeghe was taking lessons to improve his delivery of pacenotes in French after communication issues during their first few rallies together.
Much of the miscommunication had been down to a faulty intercom system too, which Neuville told DirtFish he has now got to the bottom of.
“He’s improving, he’s taking lessons every week so it’s getting every time a little bit better,” Neuville said of Wydaeghe’s pacenote delivery.
“Also since Ciocco Rally, we were able to sort the intercom issue which was very stupid or very let’s say basic issue to solve, finally. And now it’s working fine.
“Basically I was still using an old version of the headphones in the helmet and somehow, I don’t know, my helmet wasn’t upgraded to the new system so both were not working together basically.”
When asked more generally about Rally Sanremo, Neuville said: “I mean obviously we came here to do some more testing, get in the rhythm on Tarmac. And it was a good occasion for me and Martijn as well to continue improving, finding our rhythm in the car and I have to say we had a pretty good day and we were pleased with the work we have done.
“What’s sure is we have got more and more into the rhythm in the car so that’s nice. So definitely the day helped us a lot because there were a few really challenging stages for the co-driver and we could go more into some details with Martijn and he did a really good job, I have to say.
“He was improving in the morning and I really felt comfortable to push in the afternoon and yeah we tested obviously as well with some things.”
Hyundai’s presence in Italy was to prepare for the WRC’s debuting asphalt event Rally Croatia later this month, where the stages are expected to be a big challenge for co-drivers with so many corners.
“We had a stage for 14km [on Sanremo] and for a co-driver it’s like a nightmare and he managed very well, I have to say, and for sure I think there’s more to come in Croatia.”
Neuville and Wydaeghe head to Croatia second in the championship, four points adrift of Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen.