Thierry Neuville will take in Rally New Zealand next month, subbing for Nasser Al-Attiyah and representing the Qatari World Rally Team.
Al-Attiyah has elected to miss the event in Auckland, which runs from June 21-24, due to his commitments at the London 2012 Olympic Games, where he will represent his country for the fifth time in succession in one of the shooting events.
“I have to complete some training sessions in preparation for the London Olympic Games, and so I can't take part in this exceptional race,” Al-Attiyah explained. “We are official entrants in the World Championship and it is mandatory for us to compete in every round. It didn't take much thinking time to realise who should take my place in the #7 Citroen DS3 WRC!
“I trust Thierry, but most of all I want him to be able to gain as much experience from taking part in this event as possible and for it to be beneficial to him. I am equally convinced that he is more than capable of scoring points for the Qatar World Rally Team.”
Neuville, who normally competes under the Citroen Junior WRT banner, hadn't been due to go to Auckland. However he is delighted to have got the chance to compete on Rally New Zealand.
“This is more than just a great opportunity, it is a real honour for me to be trusted in this way by the team,” said the Belgian driver.
“This event wasn't part of our schedule and without this offer, I would never have been able to race on the legendary tracks of the Pacific coast.
"We will do everything in our power to defend the colours of the Qatar World Rally Team. I'd like to thank them for giving us the opportunity to experience such a great event.”