Neuville missed his Sweden test through illness

Thierry Neuville's build-up to Rally Sweden has not gone how he would have hoped


Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville missed one of his days of pre-event testing for Rally Sweden because he was suffering from the flu.

Neuville was scheduled to have two days of running aboard the i20 N Rally1 just after he contested the Race of Champions on the last weekend of January.

But the second of his Rally Sweden pre-event tests was abandoned as Neuville couldn’t get out of bed on the day and a later test couldn’t be arranged.

That therefore gave team-mate Esapekka Lappi a second day, while returning Hyundai driver Craig Breen therefore got two days in the car as well.

Neuville has arrived in Umeå for the second round of the World Rally Championship not sounding his best but is sure he’s fit enough to compete at his usual level.

“I would not say I’m 100% recovered but I’m good enough to do my job,” Neuville told DirtFish.

“I’m looking forward now, I want to get into the car. On shakedown let’s see how the car feels.”

Testing is already at a premium in 2023 thanks to a reduction of days for all Rally1 teams – something Neuville has already been vocally against as he reckons it won’t save any costs with drivers instead entering national rallies.

Missing an allocated day puts Neuville at a disadvantage, but Hyundai team principal Cyril Abiteboul isn’t too concerned.

“Listening to you, maybe I should be!” Abiteboul quipped to DirtFish, “but I’m not.

“You know, frankly I trust him. He has competed for the team for nine years, he knows the team inside out, he knows the car inside out, he knows what he wants out of it, out of the car, out of himself.


“He’s shown that he can apply lots of discipline, he can learn a lot. So no, I’m not, I’m not too concerned.

“And also, equally, for Thierry, it’s a long game very much that we are playing, you know, he’s thinking of the championship, he’s not just thinking about this event.

“Obviously he wants to be fast, he wants to perform well, and we need that in the championship. But I think we left Monte Carlo a bit frustrated, but equally not in a bad situation from a championship perspective, given the pace deficit that we had.

“So we need to keep on thinking like that, which is good. But I’d like also to see that the team-mates help him a bit more than they’ve been helping in Monte Carlo.

“This is a bit of a different setup with Craig [Breen] this time around. Let’s see, I want also to see a clear, direct contribution.”