19 August 2013
Neuville wants podium, hopes for win in Germany
After a starring role on Rally Finland, Ford's Thierry Neuville heads to Germany determined to make the most of his preferred tarmac surface.
With back-to-back personal bests and four podiums to his name, Thierry Neuville is full of confidence and could be one to watch as the World Rally Championship turns to his preferred surface.
A sensational second-place finish in Finland and an impressive performance behind the wheel of the Ford Fiesta R5 at the Geko Ypres Rally, have established Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul as a genuine contender when the WRC heads to Germany this week. Running as high as fourth overall on the event last year, the Belgians will be keen to go at least one better as they return to what is effectively their home rally for only the second time in a top-specification car.
“I have more experience on asphalt and it is the surface I feel most confident on, so I definitely want to finish on the podium,” Neuville claimed, “Of course, we will have to wait and see what our speed is like on the stages, but it might even be possible to fight for the win.”
As one of the most difficult sealed-surface events of the year, success in Germany is no mean feat. Widely acknowledged as three rallies in one, crews must master a blend of speed, adaptability, concentration and compromise in pursuit of victory.
The 16 special stages start with a winding traverse through the Mosel vineyards. Littered with junctions, these meandering tests make precise cornering and pacenotes essential. The stages then open onto Saarland's wide country roads, before the most daunting challenge - the perilous dash through the Baumholder military ground – is run twice on the penultimate day.
“This event can be won and lost in the vineyards, as you need to be clean and smooth with your driving and have a really good set-up in order to be confident through the junctions,” Neuville noted, “The stages are really narrow, which makes it very difficult in a world rally car. You cannot afford to let the car slide because you end up losing too much time.
“Finding a good set-up for all types of stages is very important, but we've had a good test so far and the car feels really good. There are still a few things to discover, but we have more testing over the weekend to work on that.
“We've had some really good test roads and were able to try a lot of different settings. Both Nicolas and I are really looking forward to this event – it's practically a home rally for us!”
Alongside Neuville and team-mates Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov, Nasser Al-Attiyah will be back behind the wheel of the Qatar World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC.
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