Citroen Junior World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville will do Rally Estonia next month, it has been confirmed.
Neuville, who has scored points in the last four WRC events in succession, will do the event as part of his preparations for Rally Finland, the eighth round in the 2012 World Rally Championship, which gets underway in August and marks the start of the second half of the season.
The Belgian had been due to do a test pre-Finland, but Citroen has instead opted to enter him for Rally Estonia.
“Finland is certainly the most difficult event for a driver who doesn't come from the north of Europe. From Sebastien Loeb to Kimi Raikkonen, Citroen Racing has entered its drivers in additional rallies to those in the WRC to help them prepare for the specific challenges of the terrains in question. As replacing a test session by taking part in this rally doesn't result in extra cost we felt that Rally Estonia was the best possible training for Thierry and Nicolas [Gilsoul – his co-driver],” explained Benoit Nogier, director of Citroen Racing Technologies.
“With its crests and high-speed blind corners, Finland is like no other rally,” Neuville added. “In New Zealand we showed that we could run at high speeds without making any mistakes. I feel that I'm improving race after race, but I mustn't relax and I must keep on working. It's a great help to take part in a similar rally that'll give us an idea of what to expect in Finland.
“We can work on all the following points: discover new stage in racing conditions, refine my note-taking system and optimise the car's setup, especially as the rally has over 160-km special stages. The fact that other WRC drivers like Mads Ostberg, Ott Tanak and Martin Prokop are also taking part will also give us an idea of where we stand in terms of performance.”
Meanwhile, ahead of that, Neuville will be in action at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend running in his familiar DS3 WRC.
“I've always kept a close eye on this event,” he continued. “Last year Nicolas and I thought about going there as ordinary spectators so it's great to be present as a participant. I'm going to drive the DS3 in the hill climb and the rally stage.
“It will be an excellent opportunity to give the crowd some thrills during a laid-back weekend.”