Qatar World Rally Team driver Thierry Neuville has said he will take a few more risks on Rally de Espana providing he is in a position to fight for the victory going into Sunday's final leg.
Neuville came close to securing his debut WRC win in France earlier this month, only to be denied by a puncture on the penultimate day.
Despite that disappointment, however, the Belgian remains confident and although admittedly focused on maintaining his second place in the championship, Neuville has proven time and again how competitive he can be in his M-Sport-run Ford Fiesta RS WRC, on both asphalt and gravel, with six WRC rostrums already in the bag this season.
“As the only mixed-surface event on the calendar, this rally is certainly a lot different to what we are used to. Although we'll only be testing on asphalt, we have good experience from last year and we know from this year that we can be competitive on both surfaces,” Neuville remarked.
“For a driver, the most difficult aspect is to ensure you make a swift transition from the tarmac to gravel stages. You need to be confident in your driving and find a good rhythm. If you are not up to speed on Sunday, you can easily lose ten to fifteen seconds which – as we saw with the field being so close in France – can make all the difference.
“Our aim again is [still] to maintain second place in the championship. [But] we've seen that we can challenge for victory on many surfaces, so we will push from the beginning, although we also need to keep the championship in mind.
"We need to finish this event strongly, but if we are still in a position to fight for the victory on Sunday, then we will start to take a few more risks.”
Nasser Al-Attiyah meanwhile will return to the Qatar WRT line-up for the first time since Germany and he is in a buoyant mood after winning the recent Cyprus Rally and clinching his ninth Middle East Rally Championship title.
“Fresh from securing a ninth title in the Middle East means that Giovanni [Bernacchini - my co-driver] and I will be full of confidence going to Spain,” he confirmed. “It was a fantastic result by the whole team and the championship is very important for me, Giovanni, the team, Qatar and all of our sponsors and supporters who have been behind us all the way.
“Rally Cyprus was a mixed-surface event like Spain, so I hope that we will have a good rhythm going into this event.
“We know that the car is competitive on all surfaces so I am sure that all of the Qatar team will be able to challenge for some very good results.”