Best finish for Neuville
1 May 2012
Thierry Neuville and Citroen team-mate Nasser Al-Attiyah both finished a long and difficult Rally Argentina in the points, but the event was not without problem for either.
Neuville finished fifth overall with Al-Attiyah following him home in ninth after producing a great performance in the Power Stage, but things appeared a lot different just a couple of days earlier.
After completing the Super Special stage on Thursday evening, the serious business got underway on Friday, with the rally's longest day. Neuville started the rally aiming to make it to the finish without having to resort to the Rally2 rules, and made good early progress, but that was halted abruptly on SS5.
“I had too much speed coming into a bend,” he conceded, “It was a mistake, it's undoubtedly part and parcel of the learning process, but I'm disappointed for the team. I want to stay positive and focus on the fact we were running at the pace of the works drivers before we went off.”
After rejoining under Rally2 regulations in Saturday morning, the Citroën Junior World Rally Team crew produced some solid performances with the second fastest time on SS12 and the best time on the Super Special stage. On Sunday, three top three times enabled the #8 DS3 WRC to continue to climb back up the overall standings, before Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul made it to the finish inside the top five to secure their best result in the WRC.
“I'm pleased with where I finished, despite my mistake on day one,” he insisted, “In the end, it's probably true that our mishap only cost us one place. I know that I have the speed, I just need to work on being consistent. In Greece, I really must complete the rally without making any mistakes. That will be my one and only goal.”
Qatari Al-Attiyah, meanwhile, lost time almost immediately with a mistake shortly after the start, but subsequently managed to adopt a solid pace, enabling him to move into the top five.
My neck was really sore and I lost concentration at the start of the event,” he admitted, “We then decided to run a sensible race, which paid off as we were in the top five - until a stone halted our progress on Saturday morning.”
On SS9, the Dakar winner hit a rock, severely damaging one of the wheels.
“We just about managed to make our way to the end of the stage,” he revealed, “We tried to mend the wheel, but the repair job didn't last long. However, thanks to the great work of the team, we were able to rejoin under Rally2 rules on Sunday. We are competitors and it was worth it in terms of points.”
The tenacity of the Qatar World Rally Team driver helped him to secure ninth place overall, before a fine performance to take third fastest time in the Power Stage earned him an extra point.
“It's good to end the rally like that,” he smiled, “I still have a lot to learn about the Citroën DS3 WRC, but I feel that we're getting there gradually. I'm looking forward to Greece, a rally that suits me perfectly. I like races where you need to show endurance.”