Neuville explains “optimistic” pacenote error in Portugal

The Hyundai star had been lying second overall before his weekend unraveled on the seventh stage

Hyundai World Rally Championship driver Thierry Neuville says his Rally Portugal crash was the result of being caught out by a “very optimistic pacenote”.

Neuville hit a bank on the Mortágua test on Friday afternoon and, though he nursed the car through the penultimate Friday stage and tried to repair it afterwards, an attempted fix failed and he and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe retired from the day as a result.

Explaining the incident, Neuville – who said he was surprised by how comfortable he felt in the car in the morning – told DirtFish: “Unfortunately in stage seven we got caught out by a very optimistic pacenote.

“I tried to save the situation but unfortunately we were far too fast to take the corner.

At least we tried our luck, and we got here [to the service area] Thierry Neuville

“There was a tree stump on the outside and we damaged the car, so unfortunately the rally stopped there.”

Asked to elaborate on the error, Neuville said there was a misjudgment on how the corner should have been taken.

“The corner was basically a quite sharp corner which was immediately opening, but it was very narrow,” he said.

“I had it like a low third-gear corner in my notes – it was a third-gear corner in my notes.

“But it would have been a low third-gear corner, and when I realised basically it was too late.”

Neuville said “there was a lot of time to try to fix some things” on the road section even though his hopes of repairing the damage were “very small”, and added despite that failed attempt he expected to return on Saturday.

“At least we tried our luck, and we got here [to the service area],” he said.

“We will be back tomorrow. For sure there’s not a lot to do tomorrow except then saving the car for Sunday.”


Rally Portugal day one report

Ott Tänak leads Elfyn Evans and Dani Sordo after an action-packed return to the gravel