Hyundai deputy team director Julien Moncet has explained why the team lodged its intent to appeal Thierry Neuville’s one-minute penalty and two days of community service for speeding on a Croatia Rally road section on Friday.
Neuville had been lying second overall after the first four stages of the event, round three of the World Rally Championship, but ran into trouble towards the end of the loop when the alternator on his Hyundai began to fail.
He and co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe – who was also handed the same public service duty punishment as Neuville – worked on the car after SS4 and were running late to make the time control at service, therefore electing to exceed the road speed limit in order to avoid incurring a time penalty.
Neuville was clocked traveling at 96.9mph in a 49.7mph zone and therefore the stewards decided to impose the penalties. As it happened, he and Wydaeghe earned a 40s penalty anyway as the i20 N Rally1’s battery fully died on the way into service and they had to push the car in.
On Saturday morning a new bulletin from the stewards was released declaring Hyundai and Neuville’s intent to appeal the decision.
While Neuville declined to comment on the situation, Moncet explained the team’s rationale to DirtFish.
“At the moment we are doing the intention to appeal,” Moncet said.
“It’s a whole process. First you have to declare that you intend to appeal, and then you have confirm that you go for appeal. For this you have 96 hours to do so it’s not done yet.”
That therefore means that Hyundai has until Tuesday evening to decide whether it wants to appeal the imposed penalty or not.
“To do so we have to collect data, evidences and facts, and if the dossier is good enough we can go ahead.”
It was really, really difficult then after all these efforts to say ‘yes, but unfortunately you have on top a one-minute penalty’Julien Moncet
Asked what in particular the team feels it has grounds to appeal on, Moncet replied: “For sure we do not contest the speed that he did. This is clear.
“But I think it was really I would say a shame, but don’t take it wrong. When we saw Thierry and Martijn pushing the car yesterday, they were exhausted, completely red, completely burned out, and it was really, really difficult then after all these efforts to say ‘yes, but unfortunately you have on top a one-minute penalty’.
“I think you have for sure the safety, this is clear, and I would say as well the sporting aspect.”
Neuville limited to 40% engine power at points
Neuville has explained the engine issue that left him so frustrated and dispondent at the end of SS13, the first stage of Saturday afternoon’s loop.
He was on course to go fastest but in the final section dropped to 0.7s behind stage winner Esapekka Lappi. Neuville felt the seconds he dropped cost him a podium place overnight as he trails Craig Breen’s Ford Puma Rally1 by just 4.9s going into the final day.
“I was losing big power towards the end of the stage,” Neuville told DirtFish.
“If not, we could have been in third overnight but we lost about three or four seconds I think in the last three kilometers. But yeah, we were able to get the car going and didn’t lose any time on the other stages.”
Pressed what the issue was, he added: “It just limited the engine power, 40% of the power. It didn’t cut, just the throttle didn’t go higher than 40% and here and there it was working and here and there not.
“The last kilometer was a huge struggle and that’s why we lost a lot of time.
“We could do a proper reset [after the stage] and then delete some errors and it started working again.”