Neuville retires from Portugal with Italy in mind

Using the same chassis for Rally Italy, and limited repair time, means Hyundai has prioritized working on Neuville's car

Thierry Neuville

Hyundai Motorsport has retired Thierry Neuville for the second time on Rally Portugal as it looks to protect its performance on the next round in Sardinia.

Neuville crashed on the penultimate stage of Friday, Mortágua – approaching a left-hand bend too fast due to an “optimistic” pacenote, hitting a bank and rolling onto his side.

The car was righted and reached the end of the stage, but roadside repairs by Neuville and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe failed as soon as they tried to get going again and their day was done.

The pair returned to action on Saturday, running first on the road, but were well adrift of the leading times as they used hard compound tires instead of the preferred softs in a bid to save them for Sunday’s powerstage.

However it transpired Neuville was still carrying an issue and he made some more checks between SS10 and SS11, starting SS11 Amarante 16 minutes late.

When he returned to service, Hyundai elected to retire him for the day.

Team principal Andrea Adamo explained: “Basically there are also links between here and Sardinia so after the accident yesterday we wanted to check the car this morning.

“Yesterday we work all the time allowed through the SuperRally, this morning we finish a bit, we did what we could because the car was, let me say in a worse situation than what is possible to see.

“There are accidents which you see bodywork falling part but in the end is more show than reality and then there are others where you think ‘easy repair’ and the chassis is bent. Sadly it was the second case not the first one.

“So we will see but we have three hours to fix it, to prepare because for me for Sardinia you have a few days, don’t forget COVID rules. For example for us to go back to Germany [Alzenau, Hyundai Motorsport’s HQ] we have to do quarantine, we cannot go to work so we don’t have all the time in the world and we have to get the best out of the situation that we have.


Photo: McKlein Image Database

“It’s not about crying, it’s a matter of being realistic and there are things that we have to face and it’s stupid to waste the afternoon when we can work more.

“This morning was good to discover where we have problem because if not we would discover Sardinia and it would be much less pleasing.”

Neuville added: “Obviously there are still some little issues to solve after the crash from yesterday. The guys worked hard overnight but obviously we still have some small issues with us, the car was difficult to drive and we need to investigate now but anyhow it doesn’t change a lot.

“Our target is to push for the powerstage tomorrow and that’s what we are waiting for.”

Eyebrows had been raised when Neuville checked into Amarante late because he slotted in just before his team-mate Dani Sordo on the road.

When asked how he would respond to those rumors, Neuville said: “No, no, no I was really concentrated on trying to fix the car.

“I obviously wanted to get at least a little bit of joy driving the car but unfortunately we couldn’t solve it so yeah, we did what we could do but now we are here back to service and the guys are going to have a proper check.”