Thierry Neuville said he was pleased to accomplish his aim of securing second in the World Rally Championship standings after taking a podium finish in Wales on his final outing for M-Sport.
The Belgian driver headed into the season finale sitting second in the standings behind champion Sebastien Ogier, but was aware that Jari-Matti Latvala could still beat him to the runner-up slot.
Although unable to match the pace of Ogier and Latvala over three and half days of competition in the North Wales forests, third place for Neuville – and victory on the Clocaenog Power Stage – was enough to secure his championship position, leaving the 25-year-old delighted at the finish.
“I'm really pleased as we achieved our main goal of second in the standings after Sebastien wrapped up the title in France,” he told Crash.net
. “This weekend we showed good pace although some stages were more difficult than others. If you look at the result, I was minute behind Latvala but this was only my second time here and Jari-Matti has been here something like twelve times! He has a lot more experience, so we should be pleased with how we performed.
“What we have achieved this season is more than I ever expected. I knew it would be tough in 2013, but we were quickly accepted by the team and they put their effort behind us when we got the results. We had no mechanical problems, we had good testing before events and were always well prepared, which allowed us to do well.
“There is some small disappointment not to have a win as really wanted a victory, but my main focus in the last four or five events of the season has been on the championship standings and making sure we finished second. I know that if I do well in the future, there will be plenty of chances for me to fight for wins.”
Neuville will now turn his focus towards the future and his new deal with Hyundai for 2014, which will see him spearhead the Korean's manufacturer's challenge with the all-new i20 WRC.
Although currently restricted from talking in-depth about his new deal due to an agreement in place between M-Sport and Hyundai until next month, Neuville added that he was making the move as a better driver and was ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
“I've improved a lot this year,” he said. “I have got used to the speed of the car and I feel more comfortable in a WRC machine, while our new pacenote system is working well and we have made a big step forwards in that respect.
“My time at the highest level in the two years has shown me a lot and I have worked with two teams and have experience of two cars, so I think I can now help with the development of a new team and a new car next year. I am looking forward to it and the preparations will start soon. There will be no time to relax.”