Thierry Neuville is determined to win this weekend’s Rally of Portugal to make up for his heart-breaking crash from the lead on last month’s Croatia Rally.
Neuville was leading Elfyn Evans by 10.8 seconds when he got it wrong on a medium-speed right-hander on the second morning, running wide and clouting a concrete pipe which immediately destroyed his rear-left suspension.
It was a particularly painful mistake as Neuville had made it his “mission” to win for Hyundai just one week on from the passing of colleague and friend Craig Breen in a pre Croatia Rally testing accident.
The silver lining though is that Neuville starts round five in Portugal from fourth on the road, when a win in Croatia would have put him at the head of the pack and therefore at a disadvantage.
As a result, Neuville is confident he can win this weekend – and is determined to do so to atone for his error in Croatia.
“I would assume that we are one of the favorites for this weekend, that’s for sure with the road position we have,” Neuville told DirtFish.
“We have to take a benefit from it on the first day, and that’s also our target.
“I mean we missed out on a great opportunity in Croatia therefore we are here in Portugal this weekend to make it up again.”
He isn’t the only Hyundai driver aiming high, as team-mate Esapekka Lappi sees no reason why he can’t be on the podium come Sunday.
“I think we can come here with good confidence,” Lappi told DirtFish.
“Last time on gravel the speed was there, it was really good actually. For sure this is a bit of a different kind of rally than México but anyway I’m feeling more comfortable with the car on gravel than on Tarmac so seven rounds [in succession] on gravel sounds good!
“We want to be in the podium fight and want to finish on the podium as well,” Lappi added.
“I’ve no reason to say any worse targets. Car feels good, and like you said the road position [fifth] should be giving us a small benefit so let’s see.”