Thierry Neuville has told DirtFish he let the Hyundai World Rally Championship team down by stopping on SS4 at the Monza Rally.
Neuville clipped a concrete barrier in the middle of one of the temporary chicanes installed on the venue’s banking section, and later came to a stop when his engine was flooded with water as he drove through a watersplash.
His stoppage meant the stage had to be paused while marshals retrieved his Hyundai.
“I’m disappointed for the whole team, I let them down there,” Neuville told DirtFish.
“I tried to do my best but unfortunately it didn’t work.”
Neuville, who was ninth overall before the start of SS4, damaged his car’s front-right suspension in the impact, which meant he was slow approaching the watersplash and struggled for momentum exiting it before he came to a halt.
He estimated that had he not stopped he might have lost “20-25 seconds” on the stage.
“First I clipped a chicane with the front-right wheel, and obviously we damaged a suspension part,” said Neuville, who had earlier lost time on SS2 when he slid off the road and got caught in barbed-wire fencing.
“The car was still drivable, because the steering was still OK, and the rim and the tire as well, but I would have lost 20-25 seconds on the stage.
“We were trying to come back in the best rhythm we could, but unfortunately in the watersplash the engine took the water, and the engine stopped and we were unable to restart again.”
Though the car had not been returned to Hyundai when Neuville was speaking, he said he did not expect there would be “any big damage on the engine”.
“We have to check that, unfortunately we have to wait until the car is back here before we can confirm, but I think it’s just a lot of water inside, and it has to be cleaned,” he added.
Neuville started the Monza Rally with a 24-point deficit to Elfyn Evans, so it now looks all but impossible for him to win the drivers’ championship. His exit is also a blow for Hyundai which is battling Toyota for the manufacturers’ crown.
Hyundai currently heads Toyota there by seven points.