Neuville sees no reason to help Tänak’s title bid

Julien Moncet says it's too early for such conversations, while Ott Tänak wouldn't expect anything from his team-mate


Kalle Rovanperä clattering his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 into a tree on Saturday morning has suddenly given Ott Tänak the smallest glimmer of hope that it’s not all over.

A zero score for the World Rally Championship points leader on the Acropolis Rally, coupled with a perfect 30 points for Hyundai’s top performer so far this season, would narrow the gap in the drivers’ championship to 42 points.

Tänak’s moonshot dream of significantly reducing the gap to Rovanperä has two big flaws in it, though. For one, a differential problem dropped him behind Esapekka Lappi to third place – though based on his pace on the day-opening Pyrgos test, he’ll take that back swiftly if the car holds together.

Then there’s the other one. His team-mate Thierry Neuville is half a minute up the road in the lead. And this problem is the potentially terminal one for his long-shot title hopes.

Such an issue can always be worked around with a word in the ear, delivering a suggestion that the two team-mates should work together and swap places. More points on the board for the crew still in the drivers’ title race, while bringing home the same score for Hyundai.

But when asked if he’d consider moving aside for Tänak to take the win and seven extra points, Neuville quickly dismissed such a notion.

“No, I don’t think there’s any reason to slow down,” Neuville told DirtFish.


“We are doing our races seriously and the target is to bring home a double for Hyundai. That would be a good result.”

That answer will come as little surprise to Tänak. When asked if he believed Neuville would move aside – without knowing his team-mate’s own answer – he astutely replied: “I don’t think so.”

It’s no surprise considering Hyundai hasn’t been playing team orders at all so far. Not even Dani Sordo in the third car was made to cede a position to help Tänak’s road order on Saturday. In a rally where every car ahead of your helps clean the road, it would still have made a small difference.

“Yesterday Dani was not keen to give me one position, so Thierry is definitely not giving away a position,” said Tänak.


“We need to fight for ourselves. Let’s see what the weekend brings.”

Faced with a trio of drivers who don’t appear to have any interest in embracing team orders, deputy team director Julien Moncet was naturally keen to swerve the question.

“Don’t forget there is still Lappi in the middle. We will ask Lappi what he thinks about it,” he quipped.

“I will give you a kind of non-answer because in the end, we have to see how the rally will go on. Everything can still happen and at the moment it’s really too early to think about that.

“Both drivers have to think of their own race and not too much about the other race. Then we will see what we have to do, if we have to do something.”