Neuville gives his account of 30-meter drop in test crash

Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe spectacularly crashed on their first proper Rally1 test earlier this month

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Thierry Neuville has told DirtFish about the terrifying moment when he went over the edge of a cliff during his first test of Hyundai’s all-new i20 N Rally1.

The crash, which happened in the French Alps almost two weeks ago, destroyed the team’s only prepared chassis and suspended testing for 10 days.

Talking after seeing the remains of the car again on Wednesday, Neuville said: “You can see that the new safety cage has definitely done its job. It saved us from further injury. I was in the workshop and looking with [engineers] and they said also that it’s done the job.

“It’s not shocking. It was interesting for me to take a closer view on how the chassis protected us and now it looks – it’s always impressive to see this. When we stopped in the crash, we were immediately able to get out of the car – we had no issues with the [hybrid].”

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There was one drop and one hit, simple as that Thierry Neuville

Moments before, Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe had been pushing hard on an asphalt road above.

“When we were going off the road, you could see that there was no tree, no ditch or nothing,” he said. “It was just a drop of 30 and something meters.

“The car started to dive and we knew we are going to land on the bottom on the roof. At the very bottom. We did all the drop without hitting anything and just landed on the roof.

“There was one drop and one hit, simple as that. We went down over a cliff and basically that was the end. We didn’t roll at all, we went down and landed on the roof. Finished.

“It was definitely a big accident.”

Contrary to DirtFish’s story on Tuesday, Wydaeghe is now expected to run in the team’s pre-Monte Carlo test next month. He won’t, however, be in the car during this week’s running.

Julien Vial, Neuville’s safety crew co-driver, will step in for this week’s test back in the south of France.

“Martijn is taking some time,” said Neuville. “He won’t co-drive in the test, but he will be with us on the test to give some support. He will be back for the pre-event and then for Monte Carlo.”

After running the car at Hyundai’s permanent test site in Germany on Wednesday, the team moves back to the Alps for more Monte-focused running from the weekend.

Words:David Evans