By his own admission, a 12-year-old Thierry Neuville would never have believed this story. Never. But there he was, flying one of the fastest cars in the world through Finnish airspace. All. Birthday. Long. Tuesday was a good day for Belgium’s fastest and finest rally driver.
A week earlier and things hadn’t looked quite so bright for this year’s Monte Carlo Rally winner as he rolled a sister – and less fortunate – i20 Coupe WRC off the road towards the end of Hyundai’s first post-lockdown day back at the coalface.
Worse still, he had something of a hand in his own downfall.
“We took off a wheel in a cut, [there was] a big hidden stone, which we discovered by the end of the day by cutting more and more every time,” Neuville told DirtFish. “It sent us into a ditch and we rolled the car several times unfortunately.”
That’s gone. Done. Tuesday was about the here and the now. And the 32 candles on the cake.
Hyundai was back out testing and Neuville was back in the car.
“The road’s very challenging and demanding today,” Neuville said. “It needs a lot of concentration and it’s my birthday today… so there’s a lot going on!”
The celebration of another year passing brought a slightly more philosophical Neuville to the table.
He added: “The sun’s out and we have a very nice and fast car and one of the best roads in the world.
“If somebody would’ve told me 20 years ago that I will be driving on my birthday to the Finnish roads with one of the fastest cars in the world I probably wouldn’t have believed that. I’m enjoying it.”