Neuville reveals reason for Sardinia crash

A loss of concentration meant retirement for the championship leader, while transmission trouble ended Katsuta's rally


Thierry Neuville’s rally-ending Rally Italy Sardinia accident was caused by a lapse in concentration, the World Rally Championship points leader has revealed.

On a twisty and technical section of the Tula stage, Neuville overshot a right-hander and fell down a bank, leaving his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 stranded and unable to continue. He had been running in third place before his off.

The reason for his mistake was a straightforward one: his concentration had momentarily dropped.

“I lost concentration a bit in the previous corner and just didn’t realize there was immediately a slow corner after that,” admitted Neuville. “Once I realized that I was too late on brakes I immediately knew it was going to be tricky to get out of that situation.

“As soon as the car got stuck, basically it was over for us. There were no spectators, there was nobody to help. There was no way of continuing despite having zero damage on the car. We were just stuck in the ditch.”

After Neuville’s retirement, Takamoto Katsuta had inherited the final podium place but his rally lasted only one stage longer than Neuville’s – albeit in the Toyota driver’s case, his downfall was a transmission fault aboard his GR Yaris Rally1.

Katsuta had already attempted to implement repairs at the remote tire fitting zone between stages eight and nine but to no avail.

“This is rally,” said Katsuta. “We were trying to fix it in the tire fitting zone but it didn’t work well. Unfortunately, it got worse on the last stage and we had to stop.”

Sardinia’s new itinerary format means Saturday is the only full day of action during the rally and there is no midday service.


A failed attempt to fix a transmission in the midday tire zone meant it was the end of the road for Katsuta

Katsuta believes the combination of a non-standard itinerary and the roughness of the two Saturday morning stages, Tempio Pausania and Tula, turned what would have been a minor issue into a retirement-inducing one.

“These stages were a bit too extreme,” said Katsuta. “Without midday service, it’s not so good. I really don’t like this itinerary; we could have it fixed in the service if we had a normal itinerary.”

Several Rally2 runners also retired with technical problems on the second pass of Tula; Pierre-Louis Loubet’s Toksport Škoda limped to the finish and then retired at the tire fitting zone, while Hyundai pairing Teemu Suninen and Emil Lindholm retired mid-stage.