Foto: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH / Austral
With two chrono rides to go in the Arctic Rally, Thierry Neuville also seems to finish on the podium in the second round of the World Championship rally. Despite a difficult morning, Neuville managed to climb to third place in the standings together with co-driver Martijn Wydaeghe.
“Slower”. “Faster”. On Saturday morning there was clearly something wrong with the rhythm with which Martijn Wydaeghe provided his driver with notes. Sometimes that happened too quickly, sometimes too slowly, forcing Thierry Neuville to correct more than once. Not ideal if you are racing between the snow walls at 160 kilometers per hour.
“Yes, we have some problems,” admitted Neuville at the end of the morning. “This makes it a bit more difficult to concentrate. We will continue to work on it. ”
In the afternoon things suddenly went a lot better for Neuville and Wydaeghe. No corrections were made and a gun time on the sixth stage allowed them to pass Hyundai teammate Craig Breen. After a fastest time in the last chrono stage of the day, the Belgian duo is firmly in third place, with a view to second place.
“Communication went a lot better,” said Neuville with a broad grin. “Still, there is still room for improvement. I also didn’t want to take too many risks this afternoon, so as not to put the tires to the test too much. Apparently that paid off. ”
The difference with leader and teammate Ott Tänak is now 25.9 seconds. An almost unbridgeable gap, but the 1.8 seconds that separate Neuville from second Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota), can certainly be closed on the 45 kilometer long final day.
For world champion Sébastien Ogier, the Arctic Rally has now turned into a disaster. The Frenchman was only sixth in the standings, and at fifty meters from the end of the last Saturday test, he also went off the track. It took Ogier more than twenty minutes.